Prosecutor: Former L.A. deputy tortured wife, her lover

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SANTA ANA — A formerLos Angeles County Sheriff's Departmentdeputy tortured his then-wife and her lover in an Irvine office after learning of their affair, a prosecutor argued Monday.

Robert Avery McClain, 38, of Irvine stands accused in Orange County Superior Court of eight felonies, including aggravated mayhem, torture, rape and sodomy in connection with the Sept. 28, 2008, incident.

He has entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. He faces multiple life sentences if convicted.

The Orange County district attorney's office asserts that McClain drove to the leasing office where his wife, 31 at the time, worked. Her lover, then 23, lived in the complex.

McClain and the two went the office's break room, where he used a knife to stab the man's genitals and carve into his face "like a pumpkin," prosecutor John Cristl said.

The male victim, who was in the Central Justice Center courtroom Monday, stiffened and began breathing hard as a photo of his face after the attack was displayed.


Cristl told the jurors that McClain also forced his wife to shoot a gun aimed at her lover, but, unbeknownst to her, the chamber wasn't loaded.

McClain is also accused of violently harming his wife in multiple ways.

Prosecutors showed jurors slides of the office before the alleged attack and the blood-soaked carpet afterward.

Public defender Darren Thompson painted a different picture of McClain, describing him in a soft voice as a deeply rooted family man who snapped after learning of his wife's infidelity.


At trial McClain wore a gray and white striped button-down shirt and silver skull cap. Thompson described his upbringing and showed slides that included photos of McClain alongside his grandparents and later with his children around a Christmas tree.

"This case is about a man who back in September 2008 was an exceptional [father]," Thompson said, adding that McClain learned early on the value of family relationships when his mother died of cancer. "[It] made him realize there's nothing more important in this world than family."

Thompson said McClain, a deputy of about 10 months, was driven to the brink of madness by his wife's actions.

"He asked her point blank, 'Do you want a divorce? I'll take care of the children.' She told him 'No,'" Thompson said.

He said initially McClain acted in self-defense in the break room before he snapped and tortured the two. The male victim in the courtroom scoffed at the notion.

Prosecutors described McClain as more of a possessive husband than a doting family man, and said he was so jealous that he would constantly berate his wife about cheating on him with men at work.

McClain's then-wife, serving as the first witness, tearfully described McClain's jealousy during their 12 years of marriage.

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

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