Ex-Ranger Convicted Of Killing Roommate

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 3, 2008

A former Army Ranger was found guilty of second-degree murder yesterday in the slaying of a fellow Ranger who died of a gunshot wound in their Gaithersburg apartment in 2006.

After deliberating for six hours, a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury rejected Gary Smith's claim that his roommate, Michael McQueen II, shot himself while the men were alone in their apartment.

"This man got exactly what he deserved," Michael McQueen, McQueen's father, said of Smith after the verdict was returned. "We're very, very, very relieved."

The defense and prosecution theories of the case pointed to mental struggles faced by many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In extremes cases, veterans have harmed others or themselves.

But the defense offered little evidence that McQueen, 22, suffered from depression, jurors said. He had plans to get a haircut, according to testimony, and was going to attend a job fair.

"Nobody bought into" the suicide claim, said a 40-year-old juror, speaking on condition of anonymity to maintain her privacy. "If anything, we thought [Smith] was depressed."

Smith, 25, was found not guilty of first-degree murder, but he was also convicted of a gun charge. A 37-year-old juror, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said prosecutors did not prove that Smith, who had been drinking before the shooting, had formed the requisite premeditation to kill.

Smith did not react when the verdict was read. Judge Eric Johnson revoked his bond, and deputies led him away in handcuffs.

The murder and gun charges are punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

Smith's attorney, Andrew Jezic, said he was "extremely disappointed" and plans to appeal. Smith's father said family members had no comment.

During the 12-day trial, the defense acknowledged that Smith's gun was used in McQueen's death. In the hours after the shooting, which occurred the night of Sept. 26, 2006, Smith removed the bullets from the gun and tossed them all into a lake. Later, he gave detectives conflicting accounts of the night's events.

The disposals of the bullets and gun were particularly incriminating, the 40-year-old juror said.

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