McClaney's trial ended halfway through Wednesday's session of court after McClaney accepted a plea deal for two counts of felony murder. McClaney is expected to testify truthfully in any remaining related trials.  Messener Photo / April Garon
McClaney's trial ended halfway through Wednesday's session of court after McClaney accepted a plea deal for two counts of felony murder. McClaney is expected to testify truthfully in any remaining related trials.
Messener Photo / April Garon

Archived Story

McClaney accepts plea deal

Published 7:10pm Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Halfway through the third day of his capital murder trial, Marquisse McClaney agreed to a plea deal and prosecutors decided to reopen the case against one of his co-defendants.

McClaney was on trial for three counts of capital murder in connection with the April 2011 deaths of Mark Adams and Carla Smilie. Shortly after returning from the lunch recess on Wednesday, McClaney pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder and agreed to testify in all remaining related cases. McClaney will be sentenced to 25 years on each charge, to be served concurrently.

Also on Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors revoked a previous plea arrangement with John Foster – one of four defendants in the case – and announced plans to pursue a trial on capital murder charges.

McClaney and Foster are two of four men charged in Needmore incident. Previously, Foster and Troy McClaney had reached plea agreements with the district attorney offering their testimony against Marquisse McClaney and Brandon Ryles in return for 53-year sentences for felony murder.

Prosecutors remain under a gag order imposed by Circuit Judge Thomas Head and calls to McClaney’s defense attorney J. Taylor were not returned on Wednesday.

However, sources said new developments in the case as well as Foster’s unwillingness to testify against McClaney prompted the decision to revoke Foster’s agreement.

During testimony this week, prosecutors shared McClaney’s taped interviews from the night of his arrest in which he implicated both Ryles and Foster. He said the four men had gone to Adams’ residence in Needmore together. However, he also said in those interviews that he had fled the residence after hearing the first gunshots.

The bodies of Smilie and Adams were found April 5, 2011. They had been shot and stabbed multiple times, and weapons stolen from the residence were later discovered off a county road.

On Wednesday morning, jurors heard from Adams’ landlord, Linda Blake, and her fiance’ Gary Dahlber, who testified to speaking with Foster on the phone while he was at Adams’ residence on April 4, the night of the murders.

Blake and Dahlber testified they had made a call to Adams at approximately 10 p.m.

While on the call, Adams reportedly gave Foster the phone.

“Before I could say ‘not really,’ because I really didn’t care he put John on the phone,” Dahlber said. “I recognized his voice, and he was the only John I knew Mark to know.”

Blake later testified she had also heard Smilie’s voice in the background asking Adams a question during that call.

In his police interviews, McClaney said he was in the car while Foster had entered the residence.

Jury selection for Ryles’ case will begin Sept. 3 with the trial slated to begin Sept. 8. McClaney is expected to participate in Ryles’ trial.

The date for Foster’s case has not been set at this time.

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