published Friday, March 21st, 2014

Ex-soldier convicted in Clarksville of killing new wife

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A jury has convicted a former Fort Campbell soldier of murder in the fatal shooting of his wife less than two weeks after their wedding.

The Leaf-Chronicle reports jurors reached a verdict Thursday after deliberating about five hours.

Nicholas Durant was charged with first-degree murder in the 2012 shooting death of 23-year-old Spc. Shardae Wright, who was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the bathtub of a Clarksville, Tenn., apartment.

Durant didn't deny shooting Wright, but his lawyer argued for lesser charges saying the shooting happened after an argument and Durant "lost it."

"He snapped. He was not free from excitement or passion," defense attorney Crystal Myers said in her closing argument. "What we saw on the witness stand was a man tortured. It's nothing we can do to take this back. He's asking you to find this occurred in the heat of passion. He's not asking to walk out of here. He was provoked. He is guilty of killing her in the heat of passion."

Prosecutor Helen Young said he had time to think about his actions before the shooting occurred.

"He thought about it and made his decision," Young said. "... He may wish he could take it back, but he can't, and he meant it when he did it. He killed this woman ... He's guilty of premeditated murder."

The guilty verdict led to an outburst from Durant, who started to charge toward the prosecutor before deputies grabbed him. The newspaper reports Durant yelled that he was "going to kill everyone in here with the last name Young" as he was removed from the courtroom. The judge sentenced him to life in prison.

Young said later that she was glad the outburst happened.

"It showed his true colors," Young said. "The jury had a tough decision, with the jury instruction and the laws, and had to sort through it. I don't think it left a doubt in their minds."

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