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Husband Allegedly Hired Hit Man on Skates To Kill Wife

July 26, 1994

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ A man is on trial for allegedly hiring a hit man to skate past his wife and prick her with a poisonous needle outside a church on Easter Sunday.

James A. McClelland, 48, is charged with murder for hire in the alleged hit, which never took place.

McClelland was arrested at his home in Tonasket, about 120 miles northwest of here, after arranging to have a former employee travel to Kansas and kill his wife, the FBI said.

In opening statements Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said McClelland, an insurance executive, solicited Mark Russell to kill his wife, Marjorie, after she moved out late last year.

Russell was to be paid $10,000 to glide past Mrs. McClelland on skates and prick her with the end of a hypodermic needle filled with poison, the prosecution said.

Russell went to the FBI with the alleged plot in March, and began working for the agency as an informant.

Defense attorney Oliver Loewy contended Russell ″persuaded, prodded, pressured and manipulated″ McClelland into the plot.

Mrs. McClelland had worked for her husband at Combined Insurance Co. but moved to Kansas in December after he accusd her of stealing $300. The couple was divorced in May.

McClelland has been in jail since his arrest in April.

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