FORT WAYNE – Already serving time for a homicide in an Ohio prison, Bernard McClaney pleaded guilty Wednesday to an Allen County murder charge.
McClaney, 37, admitted to killing 19-year-old Arthur Artie Rittenhouse III inside a home at 724 Hamilton Ave. in 1998.
Under the terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors, McClaney’s sentence will be capped at 55 years, according to court documents.
He will be sentenced in February.
Rittenhouse was found slumped on the couch with a bullet wound to his head. No one came forward with information initially, and a focus on the crime by Crime Stoppers in 2000 and 2001 led to no arrests.
A new detective was assigned to the case in 2009, and he reviewed it and talked with Rittenhouse’s mother, according to court documents.
She told him she left the home in the morning and came back at 2 p.m., finding her son dead. A black bag that did not belong to her son was near him. The bag contained a car stereo amplifier and did not belong to Rittenhouse, his mother told police.
The detective collected DNA from the bag and conducted interviews while waiting for the result.
The interviews indicated the shooter went by the nickname Sabu, which led police to McClaney, serving time in an Ohio prison on separate charges of aggravated robbery and voluntary manslaughter. Witnesses who were with McClaney that day said he went into Rittenhouse’s home. They said they heard what sounded like gunshots, McClaney came out and they drove away, according to court documents.
The DNA results came back and were consistent with McClaney’s, according to court documents.
McClaney first declined to be interviewed about the crime by police but later relented. He said he shot Rittenhouse, having gone there to trade the stereo amplifier for marijuana, according to court documents.