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Trial of Theodore Edgecomb begins with opening statements

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Posted at 11:46 AM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 19:49:05-05

MILWAUKEE — A new jury has been selected and opening statements began on Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of shooting and killing a Milwaukee immigration attorney.

The jury was seated late Wednesday afternoon. It consists of 12 women and two men. Two will be chosen as alternates at the end of the trial. Half appeared to be people of color, and half appeared white.

After lunch, attorneys addressed the jury with opening statements.

Theodore Edgecomb is the defendant in the case and is accused of killing Jason Cleereman in September of 2020 near Holton and Brady Streets. He faces one count of first degree intentional homicide.

Prosecutors allege Edgecomb got in a verbal altercation with Cleereman and his wife, who were driving in their car near Brady Street. Edgecomb allegedly punched the immigration attorney and then rode away on his bike. Then, on the Holton Street Bridge, prosecutors say that's when Edgecomb shot and killed Cleereman.

"A horrible, senseless incident that begins with a swear word, and is escalated to a punch, and is ended with a bullet into the brain," said Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Grant Huebner.

Edgecomb plans to claim self defense at trial, and his attorneys say he will testify. Defense attorneys say surveillance video provided shows Cleereman pull up behind Edgecomb and chase after him in the moments before the shooting.

Edgecomb's attorneys say he was picking up food that night for his daughter when he was hit by a car and heard Cleereman yell at him.

"So he's not just going to get food and just find a car and just go punch somebody," said defense attorney B'Ivory LaMarr. "He goes to the car, he asks Mr. Cleereman, were you talking to me? Mr. Cleereman says, yes, racial slur, I was talking to you. And that's when Mr. Edgecomb punches Mr. Cleereman. Now, we make no justification for that. There is no doubt about it, Mr. Edgecomb should not have taken matters into his own hands."

The state then called two Milwaukee Police detectives to the stand who processed the scene that night.

On Tuesday, several potential jurors were accidentally shown on the courtroom’s live video feed which can be viewed by the public.

Edgecomb’s defense then asked the presiding judge to dismiss the entire jury pool of 50 Milwaukee County residents. The request was granted out of an abundance of caution after the judge learned several potential jurors were shown on the court’s livestream. Jurors have a constitutional right to remain anonymous.

The judge called it an awful and despicable situation after hearing screenshots of potential jurors were posted on social media. The judge ultimately called for brand new pool jurors. On Wednesday, the jury was selected from a new pool of jurors.

Media were not allowed to rebroadcast the court’s live feed of jury selection. Therefore, TMJ4 News is unable to show you any of the events that took place in court related to this case on Tuesday.

Before jury selection began, Edgecomb pleaded guilty to two counts of felony bail jumping and misdemeanor bail jumping which stemmed from two unrelated cases. That leaves one count of first degree intentional homicide for jurors to decide on at trial.

A new pool of jurors were brought into the courtroom for examination Tuesday afternoon. The trial will begin once 12 jurors and two alternates are selected. The judge told potential jurors that the trial is expected to wrap up next Monday.

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