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Jury: Ex-deputy sane when he tortured, assaulted wife, her lover

May 18, 2012 | 10:32 am

Robert Avery McClain, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy convicted of torturing and sexually assaulting his wife and her lover, was found legally sane by a jury in the caseA former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy convicted of torturing and sexually assaulting his wife and her lover -- leaving both badly mutilated -- was found legally sane by jurors in the case.

Prosecutors say Robert Avery McClain, 38, of Irvine, in 2008 forced his then-31-year-old wife and her 23-year-old lover into the break room of the leasing office where she worked and made them undress at knife point, repeatedly punching and kicking both victims.

McClain's public defender, Darren Thompson, told jurors that his family-oriented client was driven to madness after discovering his wife's infidelity, and that McClain initially acted in self-defense. McClain had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

But jurors did not buy into that defense, convicting him last week of aggravated mayhem, torture, forcible oral copulation, attempted sexual penetration by a foreign object by force, spousal rape, sodomy, false imprisonment and domestic battery with corporal injury.

On Thursday, the jury found him sane. McClain now faces a maximum of multiple life sentences in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for July 13. 

Orange County prosecutor John Cristl said McClain was an overbearing and controlling husband before the incident. The defendant left the floor of the break room blood-soaked after hours of torturing his wife's boyfriend, he said.

In order to prove McClain was not guilty by reason of insanity, his attorneys had to show he was more likely than not legally insane when he committed the crime. That means they had to show he had a mental disease or defect when he committed the crime and that this defect kept him from understanding the nature of his act or from understanding that his act was morally or legally wrong.

McClain, who had been a Los Angeles County deputy for 10 months before the assault, initially persuaded his wife to let him meet the other man, but the talk then turned violent, prosecutors said.

The male victim was beaten so badly that he has no recollection of the incident and initially thought he'd been in a car accident when he woke up in the hospital, they said.

On the first day of testimony, McClain's former wife tearfully described her husband as a possessive person who would question her every interaction with men.

"I would always learn to walk with my head down," she testified. "I would look toward the ground. Just make sure I wasn't looking in the direction of another male."

Prosecutors said the male victim suffered several knife wounds to the groin area and that McClain had urinated on both victims and sodomized the man with a knife.

After slashing the man's face, prosecutors said, McClain fled the scene, forcing his wife to go with him. He then raped and sodomized her. He also chopped off her hair and attempted to make her slash her own face so that she would not be attractive to other men.

The next morning, she was able to escape the house with the couple's four children and drive to a nearby hospital for help, authorities said. A cleaning crew discovered the other victim in the leasing office and called 911.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Robert A. McClain. Credit: Orange County district attorney's office