Trial Opens For Soldier Accused In Cypress Hotel Killing

SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday in the jury trial of an Army specialist who prosecutors say fatally shot a friend and attempted to murder his father and a second friend at a Cypress motel.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Steven Matthew LeClaire Jr., 26, is charged with one felony count of murder and two felony counts of attempted murder.  Authorities said LeClaire also faces sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury.

If convicted, LeClaire may face a minimum sentence of 90 years to life in a state prison, officials said.

Cypress police said around 9:30 p.m. Feb. 24, 2011, LeClaire is accused of drinking inside of his Cypress Lodge hotel room on Lincoln Avenue with his then-42-year-old father, Steven LeClaire Sr.; Marques Murray, 24; and Raymond Eligan, who was 51 at the time of the shooting.

LeClaire is accused of pointing a firearm at the three men and firing multiple rounds, the District Attorney’s Office said.  LeClaire is accused of fatally shooting Murray in the arm and chest, attempting to murder his father by shooting several times, and attempting to murder Eligan by shooting him in the legs as he attempted to escape, officials said.

Authorities said Eligan and LeClaire Sr. survived the attack.

After the shootings, LeClaire reportedly left his hotel room and safely surrendered to an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, Cypress police said.

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