PERRY -- Robert Sybert testified Wednesday that Eddy Clements asked him numerous times to shoot his wife and offered him $5,000 to $10,000 to do it.
He also testified he’ll never forgive his son, Richard Sybert, for killing Joni Clements for the promise of “$1,000, the hooker and Joni’s truck.”
James “Eddy” Clements, the accused mastermind in the alleged conspiracy behind the murder of his wife, is on trial this week in Houston County Superior Court.
Joni Clements, 47, a clinical nurse for the 78th Medical Operations Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, was shot five times with a .22-caliber sawed-off rifle Feb. 8, 2011, at their then-home on Westwood Drive in Warner Robins.
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. Robert Sybert, 54, is accused of being the getaway driver and providing the gun used in the slaying.
Robert Sybert testified he and Clements have been friends for several years. Sybert told jurors Clements asked him several times to shoot his wife between October 2010 and her death, but he told Clements divorce would be easier.
He said the payment range offered by Clements was based on how much insurance would pay out in his wife’s death.
Sybert testified Clements also had asked him to shoot his wife in 2009.
Sybert told jurors he never asked his son Richard Sybert to shoot Joni Clements. He said his son told him the day after her murder that he had done it. Robert Sybert also testified he dropped off his son near the Clementses’ home the night of the murder and picked him up 20 minutes later. But he testified he thought his son was getting cigarettes while he went to a nearby mobile home park to buy three marijuana joints.
Robert Sybert also testified he never saw his son with the rifle that night and that he would have stopped his son had he known he was going to kill Joni Clements. He also identified what the prosecution introduced as the murder weapon as his sawed-off rifle he used as a snake gun.
Court recessed for the day before the defense had a chance to question Sybert on the witness stand. Laura D. Hogue, one of the Macon attorneys representing Clements, previously stated any testimony from Robert Sybert and Richard Sybert is biased because both reached plea agreements with the prosecution in exchange for their testimonies.
The prosecution has agreed to withdraw the death penalty and recommend a sentence of prison without the possibility of parole in exchange for Richard Sybert’s testimony and guilty plea. Robert Sybert agreed to testify in exchange for a sentence of 30 years on conspiracy to commit murder and other lesser charges in his plea deal.
The defense argues Robert Sybert misunderstood comments by Eddy Clements about his wife, including wishing she was dead, and Sybert took it upon himself to convince his son to kill her, expecting a monetary reward once Clements learned of her death. But the prosecution contends Clements deliberately planned the murder of his wife and solicited the Syberts.
Also Wednesday, Jonathan Sybert, 23, testified he told Eddy Clements about a month after his wife’s murder that he suspected his brother and father may have had something to do with the killing. But Clements told him not to tell anyone, Jonathan Sybert said.
Jonathan Sybert described the relationship between his father and Eddy Clements as “best friends.”
When questioned by Hogue, Jonathan Sybert testified his brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The mental disorder is characterized by mood swings from mania to depression. Jonathan Sybert said when his brother was not on his medication he would do “something stupid.”
He also testified his father, Robert Sybert, has been disabled for the about 20 years after falling from a building, and his father could not read or write.
Jonathan Sybert agreed with Hogue that his father had a “playful spirit” and a desire to please others. But he noted his father was able to raise him “as a proper father should.”
Testimony is expected to continue Thursday.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.