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Slain Attorney’s Wife Recounts Tragic Road Rage Incident at Heart of Bicyclist’s Murder Trial



Testifying against the man who killed her husband, a woman said the fatal incident began with a startling encounter on a Wisconsin roadway. Evanjelina Cleereman said she was driving with her husband, immigration attorney Jason Cleereman, 54, in the passenger seat when bicyclist Theodore Edgecomb, 32, suddenly came out into their lane, and she had to swerve to avoid hitting him.

“What the heck?” Jason yelled in this account.

That close call sparked a brief but tragic series of events. Jason Cleereman lies dead, and Edgecomb, who shot and killed him, is on trial for murder in a Milwaukee County courtroom.

The defense is trying to show that the alleged victim was actually the aggressor. Evanjelina Cleereman denied that on the stand Friday. She testified during direct examination that her husband was not a violent person, and that he was about conflict resolution.

According to her, Edgecomb—a complete stranger at the time—approached their car while they were later stopped.

“Were you talking to me?” he said, in her version of events.

“Yes,” Jason is said to have replied.

“And then the man on the bike violently punches my husband in the face,” Evanjelina testified. Jason’s glasses flew off his face, hit her window, and fell into the well, she said.

Evanjelina denied that Jason, who was white, ever used the N-word against Edgecomb, who is Black.

She denied under cross-examination that her husband told her to follow the bicyclist, saying instead that her husband asked her to turn the corner because he wanted to talk to the stranger. Evanjelina Cleereman testified that she followed her husband in the car once he stepped out of the vehicle because she wanted to be with him.

She said she saw that the bicyclist had a gun, and she shouted that to her husband, but he did not hear her. Watching Edgecomb’s eyes, she knew he was going to shoot her husband, she said.

“I could just feel it,” she said.

And that’s what happened. The bicyclist shot Jason Cleereman in the head, and then looked at her, she said. Evanjelina said she believed he was contemplating shooting her.

After that, Edgecomb went down nearby stairs.

In an apparent attempt to preemptively defuse the defense’s case, and improve the wife’s credibility, prosecutor Grant Huebner brought up contradictions between what she said on the stand and what she said to authorities and others back then. For example, she said at the time that her husband said “What the fuck?” but she now testified that she did not recall saying this.

Edgecomb attorney B’Ivory Lamarr indeed touched on the discrepancies in his cross-examination.

The prosecution’s questioning highlighted that witness Cleereman was traumatized by what she saw. She said she and her husband had been together for 26 years, 23 of those while married. She said she was in shock on seeing him shot dead.

“I can’t cry,” she recalled telling police. “Why can’t I cry?”

The defense asked for a five-minute delay after the prosecution finished direct examination because they wanted to introduce social media evidence suggesting the possibility that Jason Cleereman could be violent. Judge David Borowski dismissed it for relevance. Cleereman only wrote on his Facebook profile, “We probably won’t get along,” while his wife wrote that they did get along.

As for the delay, a paralegal had been out printing the material, they said.  Judge David Borowski only agreed to give them two minutes, and even after that, he unloaded on them.

He said that they made the paralegal a potential witness by having her handle this. In the future, they should have let an investigator do it, he said. He kicked her out of the courtroom for the duration of trial.

[Screenshot of Evanjelina Cleereman via Law&Crime Network]

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