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Hammer was used in South Jeffco slaying

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By AJ Vicens

A hammer reportedly was the weapon used in the slaying of a woman found dead at a South Jeffco apartment on April 24, according to documents from the Jefferson County district attorney's office.

Andrew McClay, 22, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Nicole Burns, who has been described as a friend of McClay. McClay, who is being held in the Jefferson County jail on $1 million bond, also has been charged with two additional violent-crime counts, according to DA’s spokeswoman Pam Russell. If McClay is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole. Russell said the death penalty is not being considered in this case.

McClay will be in court May 8 for a bond hearing.

Jacki Kelley, spokeswoman for the Jeffco Sheriff's Office, wouldn't release any details of the investigation to date. The coroner's office is still trying to determine when Burns actually died.

According to the initial statement from the sheriff's office, deputies went to McClay's apartment to check on him after one of his uncles called and asked them to. When deputies arrived shortly after 11 a.m. April 24, they knocked on the door, and there was no answer. The deputies retrieved a key from the apartment manager and went into the apartment, where they found Burns’ body just inside the doorway. McClay walked out of a back bedroom, appearing uninjured. He told the deputies Burns was his friend and said he needed medical attention. He was taken by ambulance to Littleton Hospital, and doctors found nothing wrong with him. McClay was then taken to jail.

Kelley did say that deputies had been to McClay's apartment in the past, most recently on an August 2008 call related to an assault. She wouldn't discuss McClay's criminal history, but records from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation show he was charged with third-degree assault on Aug. 11, 2008.

McClay declined a request to be interviewed in jail. A cursory review of his MySpace and Facebook pages reveals nothing that would suggest he was a troubled man. The pages indicate that he worked at a local Red Lobster restaurant and graduated from Highland Ranch's ThunderRidge High School in 2005.

Burns' slaying is the first in unincorporated Jeffco since July 23, 2007, a stretch of more than 600 days, the longest period without a slaying in unincorporated Jeffco since the late 1940s.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.