Clabon Terrel Berniard is guilty – six times over.
Berniard, 24, is the last of the four defendants in the Craigslist robbery and murder that led to the death of 43-year-old Edgewood resident Jim Sanders on April 28, 2010. The other three defendants were convicted in separate trials.
Monday’s verdict closed the book. After three days of deliberation, jurors found Berniard guilty of all charges against him: first-degree murder, robbery, assault and burglary. Jurors also found Berniard acted with deliberate cruelty.
Sanders’ widow, Charlene, breathed a deep sigh after the verdict was announced.
“I’m just relieved,” she said. “Clabon was the one that did all the yelling and screaming and that’s what my husband had to see in his last visions.”
The incident started with an online ad; Sanders was selling a ring. Under the pretext of buying it, Berniard and the other three defendants entered the Sanders home, brandished guns and bound family members with zip ties.
James Sanders tried to fight when he saw one of his sons being pistol-whipped by Berniard. Another defendant, Kiyoshi Higashi, shot Sanders three times in retaliation.
Berniard was described by the victims as “the mean one,” who yelled and threatened the family members, held a gun to Charlene’s head and counted backwards. His case was the most difficult; he claimed he was never in the house, and direct identification presented an evidentiary hurdle.
“If it came back not guilty, I think my heart probably would have stopped for a second, but I knew he was the guilty man,” Charlene Sanders said. “I had no doubt in my mind whatsoever.”
Berniard faces sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. The multiple counts and aggravating factors could lead to sentences equivalent to life in prison.