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Former Prison Guard Gets Maximum Sentence for Murder

A judge on Wednesday sentenced a former Lompoc federal prison guard to 25 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder in the March 2012 shooting death of a fellow guard and friend.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Kelly handed down the sentence after denying a defense motion requesting a third trial for Timothy McNally, who was convicted Oct. 10 in the death of Gary Bent, according to Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens, who prosecuted the case.

Prosecutors alleged that McNally, 33, shot and killed Bent, a federal correctional officer from Victorville, Calif., on March 8, 2012, after several days of drinking and "snorting bath salts" in a room at the Embassy Suites on H Street in Lompoc.

A Santa Maria jury also found McNally guilty of an enhancement charge for using a gun during the commission of a deadly crime.

The guilty verdict came down during McNally’s second trial. Another jury deadlocked 7-5 in favor of not convicting McNally in April, which prompted Kelly to declare a mistrial, Jebens said.

McNally, who has been in custody since the incident, was given the maximum sentence allowed for the felony — 15 years to life for murder plus 10 years for the gun allegation.

Throughout the case, the defense challenged the murder charge, claiming the shooting of a fellow Lompoc federal penitentiary guard was an accident.

McNally’s defense filed a motion for a mistrial following the October verdict, but Kelly also denied that request.

On Wednesday, District Attorney Joyce Dudley commended Lompoc police and Jebens for their work in the case.

"The murder of Gary Bent was both tragic and avoidable," Dudley said in a statement. "Law enforcement officers are extensively trained in the safe handling of firearms, but in this case that training was ignored and resulted in the death of a fellow law enforcement officer."

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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