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Teen guilty in death behind mob killing

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/06/29 10:49

A teenager has pleaded guilty to a murder that sent a mob of the victim's relatives on a search for the killer, ending in the fatal beating of another man they thought was involved.

Leonard Staton, 19, pleaded guilty Thursday to killing Patrick McClendon, 20. Staton faces a minimum of 24 years in prison for second-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and possession of a stolen firearm.

Staton called police last summer to confess to killing McClendon, his one-time friend, over 2 ounces of marijuana.

Hours before that call, a search party of McClendon's family and friends came across the victim's car, hidden among pine trees on property that belonged to the family of Tony Blakeney, 40.

The search party then turned on Blakeney, who lived at the house and was part of the search party, authorities said. Sheriff's deputies found Blakeney lying on the ground, and he died at a hospital.

Eleven men - most of them relatives of McClendon's, and all under 30 - face murder charges in Blakeney's death.

Investigators have said Blakeney had no part in McClendon's killing.


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