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Man charged in shooting death of immigration attorney to claim self-defense at trial

Posted at 10:20 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 12:02:58-05

MILWAUKEE — The man accused of shooting and killing a Milwaukee immigration attorney last year will claim self-defense at trial next month.

Thirty-one-year-old Theodore Edgecomb faces a first-degree reckless homicide charge in the shooting death of 54-year-old Jason Cleereman in September 2020.

Edgecomb is being held on a $250,000 cash bond. His trial is set to begin Jan. 3, and his attorneys indicated he may take the stand to testify.

Family, friends, activists and attorneys spoke in front of a crowd Wednesday afternoon.

"This is a clear case of self-defense, and we look forward to and maintain confidence in our judicial system to establish the same," Edgecomb's attorney B'Ivory LaMarr said.

"My son is a very humble person and anybody that knows him knows this is not his character," said Edgecomb's mother, Sonya Gordon.

According to the criminal complaint, Edgecomb was riding a bike when he came upon 54-year-old Cleereman and his wife in their car near Humboldt and Brady Streets. Prosecutors believe that's when there was some sort of altercation, and say Edgecomb punched Cleereman.

Edgecomb's attorneys say new surveillance video shows the Cleeremans followed Edgecomb onto the Holton Street bridge, and say the video shows Cleereman got out of the car and approached Edgecomb in the moments before the shooting.

Shortly after the shooting, TMJ4 News spoke to Cleereman's wife, Evanjelina.

"My husband got out because, to talk to the man, and the guy waited," Cleereman said in September 2020. "Just standing there, waiting, and my husband got real close, I saw him pull out a gun, and my husband never saw it because he was close and he shot him point blank in the head, and I saw my husband drop to the ground."

Cleereman was an immigration attorney, and several Milwaukee Alders wrote a statement at the time of his death acknowledging his work in the community.

Months after the shooting, police arrested Edgecomb in Kentucky.

Edgecomb's attorneys are trying to retain Dr. John Black, the same self-defense expert Kyle Rittenhouse's attorneys used at trial.

"Theodore Edgecomb deserves the same right that Kyle Rittenhouse got," said Vaun Mayes.

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