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It took a jury less than three hours to convict an Illinois man of shooting his wife, son and neighbor to death on Christmas Day in 2019.
Clifford Brewer, 55, was found guilty Tuesday of six counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife Shirley Brewer, son Christian Brewer and neighbor Norman Walker, according to local news station WMBD.
Brewer initially told police he woke up on Christmas Day to find his wife, son and neighbor all dead from gunshot wounds to the head in his Cullom home and discovered a gun near his wife’s body, the Associated Press reports.
However, prosecutors argued that Clifford killed his wife because their relationship was falling apart and he wanted a divorce.
When investigators arrived at the home that day, they discovered a raincoat, hat, slippers and blanket in the washing machine, which had been running on the sanitize setting.
Prosecutors also pointed to Clifford’s changing story about what happened the day of the slayings as evidence that he had been trying to conceal aspects of the case from investigators, local news outlet WEEK reports.
His defense team had argued that Shirley had been the one to kill her son and Walker. They said that Shirley was killed during a struggle for the gun with Clifford.
Shirley had allegedly invited Walker to the house on Christmas Eve—which also happened to be her birthday—and the two drank and listened to music in an upstairs bedroom, according to court documents obtained by the AP.
Clifford and Shirley’s adult daughter, Bonnie La Croix, had testified on behalf of her father, describing to the jury how she knew that her mother had been drinking on Christmas Eve, the Pontiac Daily Leader reports.
She also told jurors that her mother took other prescription medication and that Walker’s wife had been concerned about the relationship that had two neighbors had with one another.
She testified on the stand that when she first heard about the killings, she believed her 27-year-old brother Christian might have been the perpetrator.
Under cross-examination by Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Regnier, La Croix described her mother as being a caring person who had tried to see the best in her adult son.
Prosecutors also argued that there had been no evidence to suggest that Shirley had been the killer.
It took less than three hours for a jury to agree.
“We’re not going to celebrate, but we are thankful that the jury saw through the defendant’s lies,” Livingston County State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak told WMBD after the verdict was read. “We’re thankful that the jury got it right and that he’s going to be held accountable for his actions.”
Clifford’s attorney Stephen L. Richards said his legal team was “very disappointed” by the verdict.
“We think our client is innocent,” Richards told the news outlet. “There wasn’t proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Richards has said they plan to appeal the verdict.
Clifford is facing a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for the killings. He’s scheduled to be formally sentenced on Oct. 5.
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