Jury finds Portland mortgage broker guilty of murder

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PORTLAND AP) – A Portland mortgage broker who testified he acted in self-defense in shooting a friend was convicted of murder on Monday.

Steven Clark, 29, testified he fired twice after Robert Wagner threatened him with a knife.

But jurors in Cumberland County Superior Court took only three hours to reject his version of events and return a guilty verdict.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese characterized Clark as a good liar who would do anything to save himself from going to prison.

Clark’s father testified that his son told him he accidentally shot his 28-year-old friend in the head while they were passing a gun back and forth in Clark’s home.

He said he fired a second shot to put his friend out of his misery.

But Clark changed his story.

He told jurors he suffered a “nervous breakdown” after the shooting and that he lied to his father and brother to get them to help him bury the body.

Clark said he fired two shots in self-defense after he ordered Wagner out of his house following a late-night fight in which Wagner held a kitchen knife to his head and demanded a ride home.

Clark said he grabbed a gun when Wagner let go and that he shot Wagner when he lunged with the knife.

Jurors had the choice of convicting Clark of murder or a lesser charge of manslaughter, or acquitting him.

The trial included testimony about Clark’s lifestyle as a young mortgage broker with plenty of cash who liked to cruise in his Hummer, drink and do drugs, and get into scuffles in the Old Port.

Witnesses also testified how Clark and Wagner often ended up in fights when they drank, and how Wagner once threw a video game console through the screen of Clark’s 52-inch TV.

During the trial, witnesses testified how Clark and Wagner, who lived in Gray, went to the Platinum Plus strip club with friends before going to Clark’s house, where they consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms.

AP-ES-01-29-07 1804EST

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