Grand Junction man sent to prison for 25 years for slaying his neighbor

ROBERT McCLELAND



McCLELAND Robert BW

ROBERT McCLELAND

A Grand Junction man who authorities believe shot his neighbor in the head for getting involved in a domestic dispute was sentenced Monday to serve 25 years in prison.

District Judge Thomas Deister could have sentenced 32-year-old Robert McCleland from 16 to 48 years in prison for pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the March 2010 slaying of 27-year-old Andrew Boxa.

Boxa was gunned down in the roadway in front of McCleland’s former home in the 2500 block of Texas Avenue.

“If I had my wish, I’d order it be your responsibility to support (Boxa’s) children,” Deister said at the end of a nearly three-hour hearing Monday.

The judge said he chose the 25-year term because if McCleland earns various credits for serving good time in the Colorado Department of Corrections, he could become parole eligible after 18 years.

Deister’s sentence came as McCleland read a prepared statement to the judge, which included a significantly different story than previously offered about Boxa’s slaying on the night of March 7, 2010.

Authorities believe Boxa walked to McCleland’s front door in a bid to defuse a brewing fight between husband and wife.

When Boxa knocked at the door, McCleland answered and confronted him with a handgun, attempting to back Boxa off his front porch. McCleland fired a series of warning shots, before shooting Boxa first in the foot, then taking aim at his head.

“This wasn’t in defense of property or his children,” Deputy District Attorney David Waite told the judge.

McCleland, however, changed his account Monday from an earlier interview with Grand Junction police detectives. McCleland said Boxa had pounded on windows at the home and wouldn’t leave despite demands that he do so.

“I overreacted when I thought my kids were in danger,” McCleland said.

Waite suggested the statement was self-serving, called it “offensive” and a contradiction of an eyewitness account from McCleland’s own wife.

The judge called it minimization.

“You’re rationalizing what you did so you can feel better about yourself,” Deister said.

Public defenders had tried earlier in the case to raise anxiety disorder as a possible defense to the original charges, which included first-degree murder.



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