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Franklinton murder suspect released

Willie McClain, who was arrested in the Oct. 15 shooting death of 23-year-old Franklinton resident Curtis “Fathead” Chatman Jr., was released from jail on his own recognizance after a Nov. 20 preliminary hearing showed statements from witnesses proved unreliable.

McClain hired Regan and Sandhu to represent him.

The preliminary hearing was heard by Judge Reginald Badeaux. The preliminary hearing was to determine if evidence existed to keep McClain incarcerated until trial.

After police took McClain into custody following a murder that occurred in front of his residence, an arrest warrant was prepared based on the statements given by two “witnesses.” McClain’s attorney, Ravi Shah, said there was conflicting evidence.

“The first ‘witness’ was being investigated for robbing a second person that he had also accused of committing the murder, a friend of McClain,” Shah said. “This ‘witness’ clearly had a motive to falsely accuse Mr. McClain of being involved in the murder. The second ‘witness’ to the murder was over two city blocks away from the scene of the crime. The police determined the crime did not occur the way she claimed and cleared others she had also accused of committing the murder. They failed to inform the judge, who signed the warrant of this fact.”

Maj. Justin Brown testified at the hearing for the Franklinton Police Department. McClain was being held on a $750,000 bond. He had been charged with first-degree murder.

The murder took place in the 500 block of 15th Avenue. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, Franklinton Police responded to several 911 calls regarding a shooting in the 500 block of 15th Avenue. That was where officers discovered Chatman suffering from several gunshot wounds in a vehicle that had crashed into a ditch. Officers performed CPR on Chatman until an ambulance arrived.

Police also issued a first-degree murder warrant for 28-year-old Steven “Slob” Magee of Franklinton in relation to the case.

The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of McClain. Police also identified Magee’s younger brother, Akeno Magee, as a person of interest in the case.