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Man enters guilty plea in 2008 murder

MINDEN — A 24-year-old man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2008 shooting death of his girlfriend’s ex-husband as the victim slept in his Minden home.

James Matlean, disclosing details of the case for the first time publicly, testified that his girlfriend, Dawn Oxley, asked him to kill Ben Oxley, with whom she had a bitter custody fight.

Matlean also testified Dawn Oxley wanted him to kill Ben Oxley’s wife, Melissa, who was with the victim at the time. Matlean said he fatally shot Ben Oxley, but was too scared to shoot her and fled, the Record-Courier of Gardner­ville reported.

He also testified Dawn Oxley was with him before and during the shooting, and that he talked her out of taking her 6-year-old daughter from the Oxley house after the slaying early Feb. 21, 2008.

Matlean awaits sentencing sometime in March after entering the plea Tuesday in Douglas District Court.

Matlean, in a statement to the court, said he had been drinking Southern Comfort and smoking hallucinogenic mushrooms at Dawn Oxley’s house the day before the murder.

He said she was very angry when she came home from work, saying she wanted Ben Oxley dead. A few months earlier, she had been ordered to pay her ex-husband $200 monthly child support .

“I told her I would do it. Dawn asked me to kill Ben and Melissa,” Matlean said. “She drew a diagram of the house and showed me where to go. I shot Ben, and got so afraid I ran out the front door. I couldn’t shoot Melissa.”

Ken Stover, Matlean’s lawyer, said his client wanted to bring closure to the victim’s family and chose to enter the plea. Matlean had pleaded not guilty and was set for trial in January.

“My client wants people to know the truth,” Stover said. “He’s vowed not to be convicted on Dawn Oxley’s lies.”

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Matlean faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years on the murder charge, and four to 10 years on a conspiracy to commit murder charge, to be served consecutively.

If District Judge Michael Gibbons follows the recommendation, Matlean would have to serve a minimum of 24 years before he would be eligible for parole.

In February 2010, Dawn Oxley received an immunity agreement from the district attorney’s office that stated she could not be prosecuted for her ex-husband’s murder as long as she testified truthfully.

At Matlean’s preliminary hearing in late 2010, she denied having anything to do with the murder, even though her own son testified he heard her discuss killing her ex-husband with the defendant.

Prosecutor Tom Gregory told the Record-Courier that the original immunity agreement was under review, and he could not say whether Dawn Oxley would be prosecuted on new charges.

She currently is serving 90 months in Nevada State Prison for using her 15-year-old daughter in multiple drug transactions, and must serve 36 months before she’s eligible for parole.

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