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3 plead not guilty in deadly home invasion linked to internet ad

By Gabriel Falcon, AC360 Writer
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Man killed after posting internet ad
  • Suspects pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, robbery and assault
  • Prosecutor: Suspects answered Craigslist ad victim placed to sell diamond ring
  • Victim was shot three times as he tried to protect 14-year-old son

New York (CNN) -- Three men accused of killing a Washington state man in a home invasion after the victim posted an internet ad were arraigned Monday, with all three pleading not guilty.

Clabon Terrel Bernaird, 23; Kiyoshi A. Higashi, 22; and Joshua N. Reese, 20, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, robbery and assault, Pierce County, Washington, prosecutor Mark Lindquist said. If convicted, they face potential sentences of around 70 years in prison, Lindquist said.

A fourth suspect in the case, Amanda C. Knight, 21, pleaded not guilty to the same charges last week, Lindquist said. He added that the four defendants are each being held on $2 million bail at the Pierce County jail. Their next court appearance is scheduled for June 9.

The four are charged with killing James Sanders on April 28 after he and his wife posted an ad on the online classified ad site Craigslist offering a diamond ring for $1,050, Lindquist said.

Lindquist said the Sanders agreed to meet prospective buyers of the ring at their home in Edgewood, Washington, outside Tacoma.

  • Internet
  • Crime

"Two people show up and act like a couple looking for a ring for the mother-in-law," Lindquist said. But once they entered the house, he said, the man posing as the husband pulled out a handgun.

The victim, his wife, and their sons, ages 14 and 10, were restrained with plastic handcuffs, Lindquist said. Two other suspects then entered the home. One pistol-whipped the older son, he said.

Sanders broke out of his restraints and attempted to defend the 14-year-old, and was shot three times, the prosecutor said. "While this is going on," Lindquist said, "other bad guys are kicking Mom in the head while she's lying on the floor."

Lindquist said of the slaying, "this is a cautionary tale."

"You hate to tell people to be wary of your fellow citizens, but the reality is you've got to be wary when you are doing something when interacting with strangers on Craigslist."