TACOMA, WA – Today Clabon Terrel Berniard, 28, was sentenced to 97 years in prison for a 2010 home invasion robbery in which 43-year-old Edgewood resident James Sanders was killed. In May, a jury convicted Berniard of murder in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and burglary in the first degree. Co-defendants Kiyoshi Higashi, Amanda Knight and Joshua Reese were previously convicted in separate trials.
“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, overcoming obstacles and persisting in the pursuit of justice.”
The courtroom was filled with emotional family members, including Sanders’ parents, wife and brother, who addressed the Court. They described Sanders as a hard-working father, husband and son, who would lend a helping hand to anyone in need.
Before sentencing Berniard, who denies involvement in the crime, the judge said the evidence is overwhelming and he has no doubt about Berniard’s guilt.
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.
Higashi was sentenced to 123 years in prison, and Knight and Reese were sentenced to 71 and 100 years in prison, respectively.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office