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Updated: Jury rejects self-defense claim with its verdict in Wilton murder trial

Union Leader Correspondent

January 29. 2013 8:49PM

Assistant Attorney General Michael Lewis speaks to jurors during closing arguments in the murder trial of Benjamin Duling, 40, of Wilton. Duling was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his partner Shelly McGrade at their home in April 2008 (JAMES A. KIMBLE)

A jury found Benjamin Duling guilty of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing his partner, Shelly McGrade, at their home in Wilton nearly five years ago, rejecting claims that he acted in self defense.

Duling, 40, faces up to life in prison for stabbing McGrade in the neck and back while the two were in the kitchen of their home on the night of April 18, 2008.

The jury returned guilty verdicts on both counts of second-degree murder around 2 p.m. in Hillsborough County Superior Court. The jury of nine women and three men began deliberating on Monday afternoon, and were given the option to consider a manslaughter conviction. Throughout the trial, Duling kept his back to the court gallery, not even glancing up as prosecutors described him as a killer who tried to lie his way out of the brutal slaying, then accuse McGrade of attacking him.

Duling claimed he was only defending himself from an irate McGrade, who confronted him about having an affair with a male co-worker. The co-worker and Duling planned to leave on a trip to London the day after the murder. McGrade also worried that Duling and the man had an "unhealthy interest" in her 5-year-old son, according to prosecutors.

Jurors saw several graphic photos and videos of McGrade's body and the bloody crime scene. They heard testimony from state police investigators and the couple's neighbors.

Duling's 10-year-old son was called to testify as a defense witness, but Assistant Attorney General Michael Lewis cited the boy's statements he made to neighbors moments after the murder as a true eyewitness account of the killing.

"Daddy took a knife and stabbed Mommy, and there was blood everywhere," the boy told one neighbor, according to court testimony.

Judge Diane Nicolosi is expected to sentence Duling in mid-April.

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