Charges won't be filed in killing

Staff WriterMay 2, 2007 

— Investigators will not file criminal charges against a man who admitted killing his lover last month. They have concluded that the stabbing was self-defense.

Benjamin Franklin McCray Jr., 47, flagged down an officer outside his Ashe Street apartment April 4 after a struggle with Cedrick Leondras McClain, 34, who was found stabbed to death inside the home.

McCray's defense wounds, past history between the two men (including a domestic violence protective order McCray filed against McClain last year) and witness accounts of how McClain entered McCray's home made it impossible to file charges, said Kammie Michael, police spokeswoman.

A struggle between McClain, armed with a knife, and McCray occurred after McClain broke into the house through a window he shattered, Michael said.

McCray suffered stab wounds to his hands and arms during the fight. His injuries resembled those of someone defending himself from a knife attack, Durham Police Sgt. Jack Cates said. McCray eventually grabbed the knife and stabbed McClain.

"The evidence in this case clearly supports that theory [of self-defense]," Cates said.

McCray was unavailable for comment.

It is rare for Durham investigators to not file criminal charges in homicides when there is a suspect or when someone admits the act. Out of 38 homicides inside city limits in 2005, two were declared to be in self-defense. Last year, four out of the city's 19 homicides were in reaction to violence.

Of seven homicides in Durham County so far this year (six occurred in the city), McClain's death is the only one to be ruled justifiable.

McCray claimed in the protective order, filed in October, that McClain abused him and intended to kill him. McClain was convicted in February of violating the order in January, but the men decided to try to work things out, court documents said. But arguments between the two men were common, frequent and loud, neighbors said. Police were called to McCray's home three times in the days before McClain's death -- twice on April 2 and once on April 3.

The slain man's mother, Louise McClain, compared her son's killing to that of a 3-year-old because he was mentally retarded.

"God said you can't take what you can't give, whether in self-defense or whatever," she said. "The Lord is going to get Ben."

Staff Writer Stanley B. Chambers Jr. can be reached at 956-2426 or at stan.chambers@newsobserver.com.

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