Deadly Road Rage Shooting: Daily Trial Highlights

Posted at 6:32 AM, January 20, 2022 and last updated 7:55 PM, July 13, 2023

By: Emanuella Grinberg, Court TV

MILWAUKEE (Court TV) — Theodore Edgecomb has been found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide in the 2020 shooting death of 54-year-old immigration attorney Jason Cleereman.

Edgecomb was riding his bicycle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while Cleereman was in the passenger seat of his car. The men got into a verbal altercation, which ended when Edgecomb shot and killed Cleereman. But there are two very different accounts of what happened that night. The prosecution and Cleereman’s widow, who was driving the car, claim Edgecomb attacked and killed Cleereman then fled the state to avoid arrest. But Edgecomb and his supporters claim he acted in self-defense after nearly being run off the road and threatened with racial slurs.

DAY 6 – 1/26/22

  • Theodore Edgecomb was found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide in the 2020 shooting death of 54-year-old immigration attorney Jason Cleereman.
  • Sentencing is set for April 8, 2022. Edgecomb will be sentenced on bail jumping charges that day as well.
    • The maximum sentences Edgecomb could get are as follows:
      • First-degree reckless homicide with a weapon: 60 years + 5 years for weapon
      • Bail jumping (felony): Six years + $10,000
      • Bail jumping (misdemeanor): Nine months + $10,000
  • Following the verdict, the family of victim Jason Cleereman issued this statement in response to the guilty verdict against Theodore Edgecomb:

The Cleereman Family, wife Evangeline and children Amelia and Jack, thank the jury for their service and verdict, and the police and prosecutors who worked very hard to solve this case. They continue to mourn the loss of their dear husband and father, Jason Cleereman, and ask that their privacy be respected, comforted in the knowledge that justice has been served.

DAY 5 – 1/25/22

DAY 4 – 1/24/22

  • The state rests after calling 18 witnesses over four days, including four on Monday
  • Defense case continues with five more witnesses on top of a single witness called out of order on Friday.
  • Passerby and 911 caller Stephanie Trotter testifies Evanjelina Cleereman’s demeanor at the scene bothered her, says she thought it was “suspicious” that she reached into her dead husband’s pocket.
  • Defense calls attention to bystander that Officer Patrick Tivnan chose not to interview after another officer said, “f— that… we’ve got enough.”
  • Former Milwaukee police officer picks apart investigation; prosecutor tries to undermine his credibility by pointing out that his opinion was based on information the defense gave him, which didn’t include all the 911 calls or body camera videos
  • State witness Thomas Balistreri lived in the apartment above the home where Edgecomb stayed. He told police that after shooting, Edgecomb hid his bike in a hard-to-reach spot in the basement, far from its typical storage spot near the duplex entrance.
  • Outside the jury’s presence, attorneys argue over admissibility of edited shooting video that defense expert John Black shared with defense over the weekend. Judge chastises defense team for the “unfair surprise,” saying “this isn’t the Rittenhouse trial,” and rules against letting the video into evidence.
  • WATCH: 1/24/22 Deadly Road Rage Shooting: Day 4

DAY 3 – 1 /21/22

  • A woman was excused from the jury due to a death in the family, leaving 11 women and two men on the panel. The alternates will be chosen before deliberations begin.
  • Judge denies the defense’s request to show the jury a screenshot of the victim’s purported Facebook profile – featuring the motto “we probably won’t along — in an attempt to undermine his reputation for peacefulness.
  • Defense calls a witness out of order, a forensic analyst who enhanced surveillance video of the final encounter. The video was shown to the jury.
  • Jury sees photos of defendant’s home, including pictures of his bike and ammo magazines.
  • The victim’s wife takes the stand:
    • Testifies her husband yelled “what the heck” at Edgecomb as he biked toward them; squad car video shows her saying her husband yelled “f—-ing a–hole.” On the stand, she claims she replaced her  husband’s innocuous words with curses in the heat of the moment because she’s prone to cursing.
    • She testifies her husband never called Edgecomb a racist slur, as the defense claims.
    • Said she tried to call 911 but was trembling and shaking too much to enter phone passcode so she asked others (SUV passengers) to call 911.
    • After shooting, she said she grabbed her husband’s wallet from his back pocket because she wanted something of his to hold onto since she couldn’t touch him.
    • Squad car video clips: One shows her asking officer why she can’t cry, the other shows her crying.
    • Police video shows witness saying her husband “chased” Edgecomb when he got out of the car, contradicting her testimony that her husband “walked” up to Edgecomb
    • Defense presses victim’s wife on why she followed Edgecomb instead of calling 911 or going home “Everything happened quickly… I trusted my husband.”
    • She insists she did not hit Edgecomb on bike – as the defense claims – and that she swerved to avoid Edgecomb as he biked toward their car.
    • Husband occasionally used marijuana for neck pain but she did not see him use it day in question
    • In attempt to undermine her testimony that she touched husband’s body to confirm if he was dead, defense plays clip of her asking police if husband is OK
    • Agrees husband may have had 3-4 beers which may explain his high BAC (.12)
  • WATCH: 1/21/22 Deadly Road Rage Shooting: Day 3

DAY 2 – 1 /20/22

  • Testifying in an orange jail jumpsuit after the judge issued an arrest warrant to secure his appearance, bystander Rodtrell Cameron offers the most compelling and complete eyewitness testimony so far, starting with the moment Edgewood reached into the car and punched Cleereman to the shooting and its aftermath, when Cameron decided to take a look at the body and ended up overhearing Cleereman’s wife talking on the phone in what he described as surprisingly calm manner.
  • Officer Minisha Howard describes her unsuccessful attempt to find video showing the precipitating event of the Cleeremans swerving around Edgecomb (as prosecutors claim)/hitting Edgecomb (defense account).
  • Jury sees video from a distant vantage point of Evanjelina Cleereman getting out of the car after her husband was shot, approaching his body for a few seconds, then returning to the car.
  • After jury sees body cam video of bystander Jeffrey Parr describing Cleereman approaching Edgecomb with a “purposeful” walking stride, Parr wavers on the witness stand under relentless questioning – and replaying of the shooting video – by defense lawyer B’Ivory LaMarr, so much so that the judge eventually tells LaMarr to stop badgering the Parr.
  • WATCH: 1/20/22 Deadly Road Rage Shooting: Day 2

DAY 1 – 1/19/22