Crime

He was at work when his wife was killed in the bedroom, but he’s staying in prison

Eddy Clements was sentenced to life without parole plus five years for his role in the murder of his wife. Tuesday, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld his conviction.
Eddy Clements was sentenced to life without parole plus five years for his role in the murder of his wife. Tuesday, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld his conviction. gblankenship@macon.com

A Warner Robins man will continue to serve his life sentence for the murder of his wife.

Tuesday, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the appeal of James “Eddy” Clements, who was sentenced to life without parole in the Feb. 8, 2011, shooting death of 47-year-old Joni Clements.

Clements’ attorney argued there was not enough evidence to convict him in the murder-for-hire case, his trial attorney was ineffective and the trial judge should have suppressed a wiretapped conversation between Clements and a detective.

Justices unanimously rejected those arguments.

Court testimony showed Clements told co-workers at Robins Air Force Base in 2006 that he was sick of his wife and was looking for somebody who “could take care of her.”

Evidence at trial showed Clements offered a friend, Robert Sybert, up to $10,000 in October 2010 to kill his wife.

Sybert convinced his son, Richard Sybert, to kill the 47-year-old woman for $1,000, a car and a date with a stripper.

Using a key Clements gave him, Richard Sybert entered the house at 309 Westwood Drive and called out for Joni Clements, saying he had an extra key for her.

When she came downstairs, he led her back upstairs at gunpoint. Ignoring her pleas to spare her life, he shot her five times, including two fatal shots to her chest and heart.

Robert Sybert picked Richard up and they went back to their trailer where they buried the sawed-off .22 caliber rifle with a homemade silencer of PVC pipe, foam and electrical tape.

When Eddy Clements returned home after his wife’s death, an officer asked him what happened.

He replied: “I’ve been at work, I have to clock in, I have to clock out, and I’ve got co-workers to say I was there,” testimony showed.

Relatives of the Syberts grew suspicious that the men were involved in the high-profile murder and reported it to Clements, who told them not to call police.

Warner Robins police secured a wiretap of Clements’ phone and found 134 calls between him and the Syberts leading up to the killing and three calls the day she was shot multiple times in the bedroom of their home at 309 Westwood Drive.

Clements was indicted in June of 2011 on multiple charges including malice murder and aggravated assault.

Robert and Richard Sybert also were indicted and the Houston County district attorney initially sought the death penalty against Richard Sybert.

Instead, Richard Sybert pleaded guilty and agreed to testify in exchange for a sentence of life without parole.

Robert Sybert pleaded guilty to criminal attempt to commit murder and agreed to testify in Clements’ trial. Robert Sybert was sentenced to 30 years, but he died last year, District Attorney Greg Hartwig said.

Clements was found guilty on all counts in August 2012.

Liz Fabian: 478-744-4303, @liz_lines

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