SEATTLE — The Washington State Court of Appeals panel overturned the murder conviction Tuesday for the man who police say was the leader of the 2010 Craigslist murder in Edgewood.
Clabon Berniard was sentenced to 124 years in prison for his part in the crime, but now will get a new trial.
The Court of Appeals panel made that ruling based on some testimony and jury violations, saying Berniard’s rights were violated during his first trial.
But it is coming as a shock to the family of victim Jim Sanders who say Berniard was the one who created the atmosphere that led to murder.
“He was the one who as standing over my sister-in-law with the gun to her head, stomping on her head,” said Derek Sanders, Jim’s brother. “He`s the one who beat my nephew. He is the main instigator of this whole thing.”
Four years ago, police said Berniard and three others responded to Jim Sanders’ Craiglist ad to sell a ring, and instead tried to rob the family. When Jim broke free, he was shot in the head and killed, in front of his wife and two sons.
All four were convicted of murder, but in overturning Berniard’s conviction, the appeals court ruled that the judge in the case improperly dismissed one juror, and that detectives were allowed to use statements from the other defendants made about Berniard just after the arrests.
Derek Sanders is confident of another conviction, and so is Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist.
“The evidence remains strong,” said Lindquist. “We`re just sorry the Sanders family has to go through this again, but there will be justice on this case.”
Putting the Sanders family through another trial is exactly what worries Derek.
“They`re all going to have to get on that stand again,” said Derek Sanders. “They`re all going to have to listen to that 911 call again, hear the testimonies.
“I wish Claibon would man up and accept for what he`s done and not try to get out of this but I know he`s a selfish person, he`s a selfish animal. The bottom line is he only cares about himself.”