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McCleaf verdict

April 29, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A jury convicted a Martinsburg, W.Va., man of second degree murder Friday in the June 28, 2001, shooting death of his girlfriend, a court official said.

Michael Lee McCleaf, 39, faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 18.

The jury deliberated for about four hours at the conclusion of the four-day trial, said Helen Morris, Morgan County deputy circuit clerk.

The prosecution's case lasted about two days. The defense took less than a day to present its case.

The victim, Lisa Marie Mason, 37, was identified as McCleaf's girlfriend of three weeks. Mason was the mother of two daughters.

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The shooting occurred in the kitchen of a house on Highland Ridge Road in Berkeley Springs where McCleaf was reportedly staying.

McCleaf told police the shooting was an accident, Morgan County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Anthony Lynch said at the time of the incident.

Lynch is now chief of the Berkeley Springs Police Department.

McCleaf told police Mason was angry at him when she grabbed a .22-caliber revolver that was registered to the girlfriend of another occupant of the house.

McCleaf said he grabbed the gun at the same time and, during a struggle, the gun went off and wounded Mason below her left eye.

Mason was taken to Washington County Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

McCleaf was hospitalized at the Winchester (Va.) Medical Center after the shooting for treatment of a cut on his right arm. Witnesses told police McCleaf was distraught and smashed his arm through a window after the shooting.

Police said two ex-wives and a former girlfriend of McCLeaf told investigators he had been involved in previous incidents of domestic violence.

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