Jury hears first day of testimony in Theodore Edgecomb trial

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Testimony is underway in the trial of Theodore Edgecomb. He is accused of killing Milwaukee attorney Jason Cleereman in a road rage incident in 2020.

During opening statements on Wednesday, the two sides painted two very different pictures. Prosecutors argue Edgecomb killed an unarmed Jason Cleereman and ran from police for months.

The defense says Cleereman chased Edgecomb and he ran because he was scared.

Prosecutor Grant Huebner told jurors they will see video of the shooting and the moments leading up to it and that Jason Cleereman is a victim.

"You're going to see the victim die," Huebner said during opening statements. "He's going to literally drop in front of your eyes. He walks up to the defendant and then he goes down and he goes down hard. Because he's just been shot in the face. And he dies."

But the defense says Cleereman and his wife, who was driving, chased Edgecomb and he acted in self-defense.

"She [Mrs. Cleereman] accelerates aggressively, and violently, directly toward Mr. Edgecomb, that's not following," defense attorney B'Ivory LaMarr told jurors. "Members of the jury, the evidence is going to show they were chasing Mr. Edgecomb. The evidence is going to show that Mr. Cleereman was violently pursuing Mr. Edgecomb."

LaMarr told the jury Edgecomb will testify in his own defense.

After opening statements, the state began its case, calling two police detectives who were on scene the night of the shooting.

Milwaukee police Det. Alexander Klabunde testified about videos from Milwaukee Police Department pole cameras which show the shootings and the moments leading up to it.

The first video shows Jason Cleereman in an SUV his wife is driving. Theodore Edgecomb rides up on his bicycle.

"I observe the male on the bicycle approach the front passenger-side window, lean toward that window and punch the front passenger who I know to be Jason Cleereman," Det. Klabunde testified.

The defense and state agree there was some altercation before this happened, but there is no video of it.

"To be clear, you can't tell the circumstances that led to this, all you're seeing is what happened on the video?" Huebner asked.

"Correct," Det. Klabunde testified.

In the video, Edgecomb rides off and into view of another pole camera a short distance away.

Jurors saw a zoomed in version of that video, which shows the Cleereman car follow Edgecomb. Cleereman gets out and walks toward Edgecomb, who was heading toward some stairs. The jury then watched the fatal confrontation. Cleereman nears Edgecomb and then falls forward after he is shot.

The defense began cross examination of the detective late Wednesday and will resume Thursday morning.

There are 14 jurors, 12 who will deliberate and two alternates. There are 12 women and two men.

The trial is expected to last a week.

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