Katria McClain was just 16-years-old when she was charged as an adult in the murder of Conyers landscaper 53-year-old Tim Clements. On the third day of the death penalty trial against alleged ringleader Pablo Maldonado, jurors sat rapt as she gave details of how the plan to rob Clements, turned into a plan to murder him.
McClain, who entered a negotiated plea to conspiracy to commit murder in 2010, has yet to be sentenced. The acceptance of her plea is contingent on her giving testimony against Maldonado, her boyfriend at the time of the murder.
She said that on Monday of the week of Clements' death, she first heard his name come up in conversation with Maldonado, and co-defendants Christian Caldwell (who entered a plea Thursday) and Brittany Beasley. McClain testified that Maldonado poured water on the floor of his duplex (which Clements owned) and called the victim to tell him there was a leak. The initial plan was that Caldwell would go to Clements' truck while he was inside and steal his money pouch. But the plan failed when Clements brought the pouch in with him.
Tuesday they tried again, without success. It was then that the talk turned deadly.
“There was a plan to rob him that kind of turned into a plan to kill him,” she said.
McClain continued, saying that they first decided to rob and kill Clements, then take his body to his home, kill his wife and daughter, and then burn the house – with the three bodies inside of it – to the ground.
“When the plan was done there was an agreement that Tim Clements was not going to live.”
Although the teenager was supposed to help out on the morning of Clements' murder, she didn't show up. She stayed in her bed despite several visits from the three others to her home, feigning sickness. When asked why she didn't follow through with the plan she told jurors, “"I just, I just couldn't go. I couldn't."
When Beasley came to her home later that day she allegedly whispered to McClain that “they did it. He's in the closet.” Then the girls watched a movie and ate Cheetos and cherries with McClain's little sister.
After hours of testimony, McClain left the stand. Jurors head from others throughout the day, including a woman who lived in the same neighborhood at the time of the murder who told jurors that she had gone to speak with Caldwell on June 11, 2009 and had seen a blanket or a sheet in the open truck of Maldonado's vehicle. She also said that although Caldwell had been saying “vulgar” things about her around the neighborhood, that night he was quick to apologize, going so far as to drop to his knees, apologize and beg her to leave as Maldonado berated him in front of her, telling Caldwell to get her to leave and that he “couldn't do anything right,” according to her testimony.
The day ended with a 911 tape. The last recording of Clements' voice rang through the courtroom as he reported to 911 – just days before his murder – that someone had been vandalizing the duplex next to Maldonado's.
As he spoke, his widow Barbara, hung her head down and wiped at her eyes with a tissue.
The trial will continue in the courtroom of Judge Horace Johnson Monday.