Re-enactments of the murder of 53-year-old Tim Clements by co-defendants Brittney Beasley and Christian Caldwell had family members of the slain landscaper in tears this week, as the death penalty trial against Pablo Maldonado, the alleged ringleader of the murder, continues.
On Monday, 21-year-old Brittney Beasley took the stand and testified for hours about the days leading up to the murder and those following it.
As Clements' widow Barbara put her head down and placed her hands over her ears, Beasley showed jurors - some of whom stood to get a better view - how Tim Clements fell when he was first struck with a baseball bat, and how, since he attempted to get back up, Maldonado allegedly began striking him in the back of the head with a hammer.
She told jurors that after Clements had been bound by a cord with a bag tied over his head and stuffed into a closet, Maldonado told Caldwell not to get any of Clements' blood on him, because he had Hepatitis C. She said Caldwell joked and told them some of Clements blood had gotten in his eyes, saying to her, "give me a kiss, baby."
Beasley's job was to clean up. She recounted how it took her 30 to 40 trips from the front foyer area where Clements was struck to the sink to clean up all the blood, and that she was scared when she kept hearing Clements making sounds in the closet. When his phone started ringing, she called Caldwell and Maldonado - who had left to ditch Clements' truck. She said Maldonado was yelling in the background and he and Caldwell wanted her to open the closet and see if he was alive and then take the phone. She refused, saying that not only was she scared that he was alive and would come after her, but that she also didn't want to look at him.
But that cavalier attitude didn't stop there. She said later that evening when they were driving to McDonough so Maldonado could meet a girl at a bowling alley, they passed over the bridge they had thrown Clements' body off, Maldonado said he was a "sick man" and that he had talked to Clements as they drove his body to the bridge earlier and had given him a kiss goodbye before tossing him over. He also allegedly told Caldwell and Beasley, "Y'all wave, there goes Boss Man; he's swimming."
Caldwell, the co-defendant who admitted to being the first to strike Clements, took the stand Tuesday. Like Beasley, he admitted to initially lying to investigators in an attempt to minimize his participation in the death of Clements. But after pleading guilty last week, he told jurors he was in court to tell the full truth of what happened on June 11, 2009.
He said the first discussion came up to rob Clements when he and Beasley were in bed. They had just woken up and Maldonado called and told him to hurry up and go where the laundry room was and throw some water on the floor to make it seem like the pipes had burst or leaked so that Clements could come into the house and check it out. Maldonado wanted Caldwell to jump on Clements when he came into the house and take the $10,000 that he said Clements had. He said because of the urgency in Maldonado's voice, he believed him and he said he decided to do it. He threw the water on the floor. Maldonado wanted him to jump him from behind, take his black pouch and run.
"My lifestyle...if you tell a 17 year old with a pregnant girlfriend, and have bills too, you can get $10,000, you go for it," Caldwell said.
But the plan didn't work. So Maldonado reportedly told Caldwell to get into Clements' truck while the victim was inside the house and find his money pouch. But, according to Caldwell, there were several directions in order to get into the glove compartment box, and he didn't think he could do it.
"I said I couldn't do all that, it was too much. My hand-eye coordination ain't that good... What you want me to do? Start a spaceship?"
The next day, there was another plan. In this one, Caldwell was to hide in the vacant duplex next door and hit Clements when Maldonado lured him into the duplex after telling him people had been stealing things. Instead of coming inside that day, Clements stayed outside and called the police to make a report, thwarting the plan. Caldwell said he could fight, but didn't like the idea of hitting Clements. He would prefer to have a gun because you could scare someone into giving you their money.
"That's my idea of an armed robbery," he said. "I was ready to go for an armed robbery."
Caldwell reiterated the story that Beasley had told about the day of the robbery. He said the plan was never to kill Clements, but just to knock him out. Caldwell also said that when he first hit Clements with the bat, he went down, but was not out. It was then that Maldonado came in with the hammer. Caldwell demonstrated on District Attorney Layla Zon how Maldonado struck Clements over and over in the head with a hammer, but said he was still alive and "snoring" when they bound him and put them in the closet with a bag over his head.
He reportedly told investigators that he felt like he was on "The First 48." He also testified that when he and Maldonado went to move the body in order to dump it in Snapping Shoals Creek, Maldonado wanted him to take Clements' head.
"I didn't want to grab his head because I've seen too many scary movies," said Caldwell.