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Jury begins deliberations of Wilton murder case

  • Attorney Mike Lewis of the N.H. Attorney General's Office spoke to the jury during closing arguments Monday, urging them to find Benjamin Duling of Wilton guilty of second degree murder for the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Sherry McGrade, in 2008.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Attorney Mike Lewis of the N.H. Attorney General's Office spoke to the jury during closing arguments Monday, urging them to find Benjamin Duling of Wilton guilty of second degree murder for the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Sherry McGrade, in 2008.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008 speaks with his lawyer following the prosecution's closing arguments Monday morning, while the jury prepares to begin deliberations. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008 speaks with his lawyer following the prosecution's closing arguments Monday morning, while the jury prepares to begin deliberations.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Attorney Mike Lewis of the N.H. Attorney General's Office spoke to the jury during closing arguments Monday, urging them to find Benjamin Duling of Wilton guilty of second degree murder for the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Sherry McGrade, in 2008.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • The jury began deliberations Monday in the trial of a Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008. Duling is claiming self-defense.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Benjamin Duling Sr., of Wilton, who is accused second-degree murder for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend, Shelly McGrade in 2008 speaks with his lawyer following the prosecution's closing arguments Monday morning, while the jury prepares to begin deliberations. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

NASHUA — A jury began deliberations Monday afternoon in the case of a 2008 fatal stabbing of a Wilton woman. While the accused, the woman’s boyfriend, is claiming self-defense, the prosecution contends his story doesn’t add up.

The case dates back to the night of April 18, 2008, when Benjamin Duling, 40, of Wilton, was arguing with his live-in girlfriend, Shelly McGrade, 35. Duling’s defense alleges McGrade came at him with a large kitchen knife, prosecuting attorney Mike Lewis of the N.H. Attorney General’s Office noted during closing arguments Monday. After disarming her, Duling allegedly stabbed her once in the neck and once in the back, which resulted in her death.

The two had argued over a trip to London they were scheduled to take the following day with a male friend . Lewis told the jury that McGrade had refused to go on the trip because she felt the other man had been showing an “unhealthy interest” in McGrade and Duling’s then 5-year-old son. Duling allegedly told McGrade he would be going on the trip without her, taking their two children, which led to the confrontation.

Following the stabbing, Duling allegedly called 911 from the kitchen phone, where the altercation had occurred, before taking the couple’s two children, then aged 2 and 5, to a neighbor’s house, where 911 was once again called. When Wilton and Milford police officers arrived at the scene, they discovered McGrade deceased, having died from her wounds.

Duling was arrested in May 2008, and charged with second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During closing arguments at the Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua, Lewis said the case presented by the defense didn’t match statements Duling made following the incident.

Since the incident, Duling has said he does not remember the incident. Lewis noted that in a 911-call made from the couple’s home directly following the incident, Duling told the operator, “My wife came at me with a knife. I took it from her and stabbed her.”

First of all, Lewis pointed out, when police arrived at the scene McGrade — found dead in the kitchen — had the knife in her hand, despite the fact that Duling had told 911 operators that he had taken the knife from her. Duling was the only one who could have placed the knife back in her hands, Lewis alleged, and the only reason for doing so would be to attempt to lay blame on her for instigating the attack.

Also, Lewis added, even if McGrade had begun the confrontation with the knife, Duling’s right to defend himself ended after he disarmed her.

“He was able to use less than deadly force to disarm her,” Lewis told the jury. “Rather than stop there, he went way, way beyond what was necessary...There was no need to kill the mother of his two children, but he did.”

Duling’s defense argued that Duling was not in the right frame of mind to make the distinction between self-defense and deadly force directly after McGrade’s alleged attack on him.

Lewis noted that in an interview with police following the incident Duling told police, “I was not terrified. I didn’t think anything of it,” which Lewis said doesn’t fit the defense’s claim that Duling was in a defensive mode.

Duling sustained a cut on his hand during the altercation. Lewis said that, according to expert testimony from Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jenny Duval, the injury was not consistent with a self-defense wound, which would have been on his arms or non-dominant hand, but came from his hand sliding over the unguarded blade while in the process of stabbing McGrade.

The jury entered deliberations early Monday afternoon, and remained in deliberations as of press time Monday.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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