TACOMA, WA – Today, a jury convicted Clabon Terrel Berniard, 28, of murder in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and burglary in the first degree. Berniard took part in a 2010 home invasion robbery in which 43-year-old Edgewood resident James Sanders was killed. Co-defendants Kiyoshi Higashi, Amanda Knight and Joshua Reese were previously convicted in separate trials. Berniard is scheduled to be sentenced on June 19, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in room 2-D of the County-City Building in Tacoma.
On April 28, 2010, Knight and Higashi entered the Sanders home posing as buyers for a diamond ring James Sanders had offered for sale on Craigslist. Higashi pulled out a gun. He and Knight tied up James and his wife, Charlene. Reese and Berniard, who were waiting outside, entered the home and immediately gathered the Sanders’ sons, ages 10 and 14 years, at gunpoint.
Berniard kicked Charlene in the head as she lay on the floor, and then put a gun to the back of her head and counted down as though he was going to shoot her. James broke free and Higashi shot him three times, killing him. The defendants fled with cell phones, electronics and jewelry, including the wedding ring they took off Charlene’s finger.
In 2011, Berniard and his co-defendants were convicted as charged. An appellate court overturned Berniard’s conviction in June 2014, citing two errors by the trial judge who presided over the case.
“Justice was delayed but it was not denied,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Deputy Prosecutors Greg Greer and Erica Eggertsen did an outstanding job on a challenging case. Our office and the Sanders family appreciate the hard work of the jurors.”
Higashi was sentenced to 123 years in prison, and Knight and Reese were sentenced to 71 and 100 years in prison, respectively. Berniard, who was sentenced to 123 years after the first trial, again faces the functional equivalent of life in prison.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office