CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Military prosecutors in the Pfc. Shadow McClaine murder case told a presiding officer her ex-husband wanted a sexual assault allegation to go away and killed the Fort Campbell soldier to make that happen.
McClaine disappeared in September 2016. Her body was discovered near exit 19 off Interstate 24 in this past January.
Sgt. Jamal Williams-McCray and Spc. Charles Robinson are charged with premeditated murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in her disappearance and death.
McCray, her ex-husband, is additional charged with rape by force and obstruction of justice.
The soldiers were in a military court Monday and Tuesday for a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause. It’s the military court’s version of a grand jury.
During the two-day hearing, defense attorneys for both men argued they had not received enough evidence to mount a proper defense and asked the hearing be delayed.
The presiding officer denied those requests and moved the hearing forward on Monday.
On Tuesday, during the government’s closing arguments, Maj. Rebecca Farrell said McClaine reported in 2015 that McCray was both physically violent and had sexually assaulted her during their marriage.
Maj. Farrell said McClaine initially recanted her accusation but later told officers her initial report was true, and McCray had intimidated her to recant the report of sexual assault.
According to prosecutors, the sexual assault investigation remained open over the next several months before McClaine disappeared in September 2016.
Prosecutors contend McCray wanted to take a military assignment in Korea and move on with his career but could not because the sexual assault allegation remained unresolved.
They also allege McCray was angered by McClaine’s continued presence in his life. She was accused of stalking her ex-husband and set to go on trial for that charge three weeks after her disappearance.
Prosecutors told the presiding officer McCray enlisted the help of his friend and fellow soldier Spc. Charles Robinson to kidnap his ex-wife and kill her.
Robinson’s wife told investigators she heard her husband talking with McCray about the exit where McClaine’s body was eventually discovered. The wife also said her husband came home after a night out in September wanting to wash his truck with bleach and even asked a neighbor about borrowing a pressure washer.
Prior to the night out, Robinson’s wife told investigators he told her he was going to a rave. He packed all black clothing and a mask before leaving the house. He was gone all night.
Prosecutors said he also asked his wife to wash a pair of socks he was wearing the night he was gone more than one time to get mud off of them.
Later Tuesday, Maj. Farrell told the presiding officer McCray also acted suspiciously during that time. She said he told investigators in the days surrounding McClaine’s disappearance that he was in Clarksville the entire time at his apartment, but his girlfriend told investigators she talked to him by phone on Sept. 3 or Sept. 4 and he said he was looking for McClaine in Nashville.
McClaine was not reported missing until at least three days later when she missed formation at Fort Campbell.
“No one knew she was missing at that time,” Maj. Farrell said. “Her own mother did not know she was missing, but he is telling his girlfriend that he is looking for Shadow McClaine.”
Also, surveillance video shows a man leaving McClaine’s car in a downtown Nashville parking lot. A subsequent search of McCray’s car turned up a duffle bag with clothes matching the clothes seen in the surveillance video.
Defense attorneys for the soldiers called the circumstantial information loose and not enough to refer the two soldiers for a general court martial where the death penalty is an option.
Robinson’s attorney pointed out that the prosecution had no physical evidence to tie him to McClaine’s disappearance or murder.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not completed processing for DNA evidence from the scene where McClaine’s remains were discovered. The state medical examiner has also not determined the means or manner of her death.
Authorities identified the soldier’s remains using dental records from Fort Campbell. Both a dentist and a forensic dentist confirmed a match to the remains found near the interstate.
McCray’s attorney said the sexual assault allegation was the result of a contentious divorce between two. He also said the relationship between the two included a BDSM lifestyle and that’s why there were text messages that talk about physical acts that could be seen as abuse.
He also said the timeline for the allegations and disappearance does not support a motive for murder.
The allegation of sexual assault was made in 2015, but McClaine did not disappear until more than nine months later in September 2016.
The presiding officer said he will render his recommendation to Fort Campbell commanding general five days after the official transcript of the hearing is complete. He can recommend the charges be dismissed or recommend the commanding general sends the case for a general court martial.
McClaine’s parents and other family members were in the court room for the two-day hearing. They listened quietly but at times during defense presentations could be seen shaking their heads in frustration.
Both Williams-McCray and Robinson are being held in the Montgomery County jail.