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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 9th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 5 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 5

Father describes accused killer Timothy McNally's behavior

BY AMY ASMAN

Witnesses started taking the stand on April 8 in the trial of former Lompoc prison guard Timothy McNally, who’s charged with murdering his friend and fellow prison guard Gary Bent in a Lompoc hotel room last year.

Judge Patricia Kelly’s usually bustling Department 8 courtroom in Santa Maria took on a somber atmosphere as a handful of Lompoc Police Department officers described what happened the evening of March 8, 2012.

Sonia Reynolds, an acquaintance of McNally’s, alerted police to some suspicious text messages she received from the defendant, implying he had shot and killed someone.

“Dude, some crazy ass shit just happened. Life is about to get a lil shitty,” McNally said in a profanity-laced text message. “Damn. I just shot my friend in the damn neck. He’s fucking dead as fuck.”

Information provided by Reynolds and McNally’s father, Michael, led police to Room 113 of the Embassy Suites Hotel. Lead investigating officer Corey Cox testified that he found Bent slumped over in a pool of blood in the bathtub, the victim of a fatal gunshot wound to the neck.

According to information that came out during pre-trial, McNally and Bent, a guard at Victorville Penitentiary, were hanging out at the hotel with friends in the hours leading up to Bent’s death. Toxicology reports showed traces of alcohol and bath salts in both men’s systems.

Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens showed the jury some photographs of the crime scene, which triggered an emotional response from Bent’s loved ones sitting in the courtroom.

A procession of witnesses continued to relay important details of the case, including the phone call Michael McNally made to Cox alerting the officer he had located his son and planned to drive him to the police station.

Dressed in jeans and a white, long-sleeved shirt, Michael McNally eventually took the stand.

When Jebens commented it was safe to say the father wasn’t happy to be in the courtroom testifying against his son, Michael said, “Actually, I view it as not being here to prosecute but to defend.”

Michael explained that Reynolds called him around 10 p.m. to tell him about the text messages and said that she “didn’t know if it was a game or not.”

The concerned father attempted to contact his son, but didn’t get a response. He talked to Cox and said he was looking for Timothy.

Later that evening, Michael said, “Tim came home. I heard his truck. … I met him at the front door. I asked him, ‘Is it true that someone was killed?’ He said yes.”

After that, Michael testified, Timothy came in the house, sat in a recliner close to the front door, and played with his lighter—completely unresponsive.

“I tried to talk to him. I tried to talk him into turning himself in. He didn’t respond,” Michael said, adding later, “I’m a computer person. I work with computers so I don’t know how else to say it; it was like the machine was locked up and just cycling. He couldn’t come to an answer. I don’t think he even realized I was talking to him.”

According to Michael, Timothy eventually pulled a nine-millimeter handgun out from under his coat, looked at it, and started passing it from hand to hand. Michael asked his son for the weapon without a response. He also asked Timothy not to shoot himself, but didn’t get a response.

“I didn’t know what he was doing to do,” Michael said. “I was a concerned parent for a wide number of different reasons.”

At one point, he said, Timothy calmly fired a round in the front door.

“I’m sorry to say I got mad,” Michael said, adding that he changed the tone of his voice to a “command presence.”

“I told him, ‘Give me the gun,’ … and he gave me the gun,” he said.

Once he had the gun, Michael said he immediately took out the magazine, cleared a bullet from the chamber, and locked the slide open.

Michael eventually convinced his son to step outside for a cigarette. He said smoking seemed to help Timothy get his bearings.

As the two men were standing outside, police officers started to approach the house; they announced their presence and told both McNallys to put their hands above their heads.

Michael walked forward, told them that he was holding the empty gun, and placed it and the magazine on the ground. Timothy followed with his hands up, got to his knees, and then stretched out onto his stomach and put his hands out at his sides. Police handcuffed Timothy and took him into custody.

The day ended with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Biedinger, a coroner’s detective, describing the crime scene at the hotel and Bent’s autopsy. Testimony is expected to continue throughout the week.