LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The jury has returned a verdict in the murder trial of Terry Clarkson. A jury has found him guilty of second degree murder, among other verdicts in the five other charges he faced in court.
Clarkson was also found guilty of armed robbery, aggravated burglary, theft of firearms, and theft over $500. He was found not guilty of conspiracy.
The jury returned the verdicts just after 6:30 p.m. Friday after both the prosecution and defense attorneys made closing arguments Friday morning.
Clarkson was accused of being a principal in the murder of 56-year-old Jac Mayeux in October 2007.
A sentencing trial will take place on April 5 at 1:30 p.m., while sentencing itself will be held on April 14.
As Prosecutor Richard Morton explained, over the two weeks of Mayeux's estate sale he was making a lot of money. But those who murdered him never found it. After Mayeux's death his daughter found $32,000 in his crock pot which, says Morton, was probably a world of money to the three who planned and carried out the killing of Mayeux.
Morton told jurors when they saw James Ramsdell and Terry Clarkson this week they saw what a murderer looks like up close and personal. Ramsdell, who was the trigger man, has already been convicted and is serving life in prison.
Morton called Ramsdell, Clarkson and witness Darrell Bruce a team of three who talked about murdering Mayeux and did so to steal his stuff. And Morton emphasized, even though Ramsdell shot Mayeux, Clarkson's involvement as a principal makes him just as guilty as if his hand had been on the trigger.
He also talked about Clarkson's behavior after the murder as further evidence of his guilt. The defense has suggested Clarkson went along with Ramsdell's orders because he was afraid of him after seeing him gun down Mayeux. But Morton questions why Clarkson didn't call police when he got away from Ramsdell and why, asked Morton, wasn't Clarkson truthful when questioned by police. Says Morton, "An innocent man has no reason to lie."
Yet, Clarkson's defense attorney David Wallace called key witness Bruce a liar and suggested the state made a mistake in not treating him more severely. Says Wallace, "If Terry Clarkson is convicted, there ain't no justice in Louisiana and there ain't no justice in the United States of America."
One of the reasons jury deliberations are likely to be long is because the panel of twelve has to decide whether Clarkson is guilty on six different charges and each has various lesser or responsive verdicts they can choose. For example on the murder charge jurors can choose from four verdicts: Guilty of First Degree Murder, Guilty of Second Degree Murder, Guilty of Manslaughter or Not Guilty. And it's like that with five additional charges of conspiracy to commit First Degree Murder, armed robbery, aggravated burglary, theft of firearms and theft of moveable property over $500. Jurors have six verdict sheets to fill out, one sheet on each charge. All possible verdicts are listed on the sheets. At least ten of the twelve jurors must agree on each charge, in order to render a verdict.