MILWAUKEE — The man accused of shooting and killing an immigration attorney on the Holton Street Bridge last year will stand trial next week.
Thirty-one-year-old Theodore Edgecomb was back in court Monday afternoon.
He now faces a first degree intentional homicide charge in the shooting death of Jason Cleereman.
Judge David Borowski accepted the state's request to upgrade the charge from the original first degree reckless homicide.
Defense attorneys said that was unfair for their client, who is claiming self-defense at trial.
"That carries a mandatory life sentence if he's convicted," said defense attorney Aneeq Ahmad. "And it just ups the stakes."
The shooting happened back in September 2020. Investigators believe it happened after some sort of argument on the road between Edgecomb and Cleereman, which ended in Edgecomb shooting Cleereman.
Prosecutors indicate they plan to show surveillance video of Edgecomb punching Cleereman during this encounter.
Edgecomb's defense attorneys point to surveillance video they say shows Cleeremans follow Edgecomb in their car and then approached him moments before the shooting.
Last month the Cleereman family released a statement that reads in part, "Mr. Edgecomb did not act in self-defense, and this is not a close case."
At the time of the shooting, Edgecomb was out on bond and not supposed to have a gun. He was arrested months later in Kentucky.
During Monday's hearing, defense attorneys requested the judge limit the use of certain words, such as "victim" and "crime scene," at trial. They argue it's prejudicial.
The judge disagreed.
"This is not the Rittenhouse case," Judge Borowski said. "I know Judge Schroeder. I consider Judge Schroeder a friend of mine. I have never required the state or told the state how to refer to somebody when they're on the stand. Now if the state uses the word victim 752 times, I'll probably tell them to back off because they'll be belaboring it. But, I'm not going to tell the state how to try the case. And there was a victim in this case."
Jury selection is scheduled to begin next Tuesday. The judge said 12 jurors and two alternates will hear the case. The defense team suggested selecting more alternates in case someone tests positive for Covid-19, but the judge said no.
"If somebody on the jury panel contracts Covid, unfortunately the case will go down the toilet, it will be a mistrial," Judge Borowski said.