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Ex-Army Ranger guilty of killing friend

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

A former Army Ranger was convicted Wednesday in his retrial for the death of a fellow Ranger in Montgomery County.

Gary Smith, 29, was convicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of involuntary manslaughter and a handgun charge in the September 2006 death of Michael McQueen.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15. He faces 10 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge and could face up to 20 years in prison for the handgun charge.

McQueen was fatally shot in the head in the Gaithersburg apartment that he and Smith shared, after the two had been out drinking.

When Smith spoke to detectives, he gave them differing accounts about what happened. He first told police that McQueen's death was a murder by a stranger and then said McQueen shot himself while Smith was out picking up laundry at his mother's home. He later said McQueen killed himself after Smith had returned from picking up the laundry.

During the trial that started last month, prosecutors argued that Smith killed McQueen. However, Smith's lawyers contended that McQueen killed himself, either accidentally or in a suicide.

In 2008, Smith was convicted of depraved-heart second-degree murder -- a killing committed while acting in "extreme disregard" for human life -- as well as a weapons charge and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

But the Maryland Court of Appeals overturned those convictions in 2011, because the jurors were not allowed to hear a witness's testimony that suggested McQueen was in a depressed state of mind. An officer who arrested McQueen for drunk driving the month before his death spoke during the retrial and recounted that McQueen said he did not need the arrest with everything else going on in his life.

Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy said he was pleased that two juries have found that McQueen did not commit suicide.

"I am completely satisfied with the verdict in this case," he said.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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