Opening statements expected Tuesday in Houston County murder-for-hire trial

PERRY -- Opening statements are expected Tuesday morning in the Houston County trial of James “Eddy” Clements who is accused of hiring others to kill his wife.

After panels of potential jurors were reviewed throughout the day Monday, the jury was selected shortly after 6 p.m. Also, Superior Court Judge Edward D. Lukemire indicated from the bench that he was upholding his July ruling that a police wiretap used in the investigation of Clements is permissible in court after the issue was raised again Monday by the defense.

Joni Clements, 47, a clinical nurse for the 78th Medical Operations Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, was shot multiple times in the upper torso with a .22-caliber sawed-off rifle Feb. 8, 2011, in the master bedroom of the couple’s home on Westwood Drive in Warner Robins.

The lead detective on the case has said she begged for her life.

Eddy Clements, 56, a sheet metal mechanic for the 559th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Robins, is accused of hiring Richard Grant Sybert, 30, of Warner Robins, to kill his wife in exchange for the promise of $1,000, a car and a date with a stripper.

Sybert’s father, Robert Sybert, 54, is accused of being the getaway driver and providing the gun used in the slaying.

The father and son lived in a mobile home in Red Fox Run about two miles from the Clements’ home. The father had cleaned the Clements family’s pool.

Clements pleaded not guilty at his Jan. 25 arraignment. He was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, malice murder, felony murder, burglary, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, kidnapping with bodily injury, possession of a firearm during a crime, use of a sawed-off rifle to commit murder and use of a firearm with a silencer to commit murder.

After opening statements Tuesday from prosecution and defense attorneys, the prosecution is expected to begin calling witnesses in the case.

The trial is expected to last through Friday.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.