MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A jury found Clifford Friend guilty of second-degree murder Friday night for the death of his ex-wife, Lynne, 20-years ago.
It took about five hours for the jury to convict Friend.
He left the courtroom in chains.
“We believe there are many ground for appeal,:” said Friend’s attorney, Peter Heller. “Still in shock. I really don’t’ know what else to say.”
Friend chose not to testify as the case against him for the alleged murder of his ex-wife.
In closing arguments prosecutors characterized him as a cold-blooded killer.
“The love of a child, ladies and gentlemen, the love of a son does not excuse or justify murder,” Assistant State Attorney Marie Mato told jurors.
Friend was said to have been enraged that his wife had won custody of their young son.
During the trial her fiancé tearfully testified that Lynn friend was going to her ex’s house to collect a support check on August 28th, 1994, and was never heard from again.
The defendant’s pal, Alan Gold, testified during the trial he was called to help dispose of the body after Friend strangled his former wife.
Customs agents testified that they witnessed the pair that night dumping something from Friend’s boat in the ocean. A body was never found.
The defense argued no physical evidence was found at Friend’s house linking him to murder.
“There’s no DNA, no blood, no saliva,” said defense attorney Peter Heller.
Heller pounded away at the state’s star witness, Gold, calling him a convicted felon who told his story to prosecutors 19 years after the alleged murder in order to save his own neck.
“He knew he needed to tell them what they wanted to hear, because he wasn’t going to get immunity from prosecution if he didn’t say what they liked,” Heller told the jury.
The state conceded Gold is an unsavory sort, but argued that makes him all the more believable.
“He’s precisely the kind of guy that the defendant would call to help him do what he did, get rid of the body,” Mato told jurors.
Gold testified that Clifford told him he had “lost it” and choked his ex to death.
The prosecutor noted expert testimony that it would have taken Friend as much as five minutes to strangle his victim.
“At any point in time he could have released his deadly grip on his ex-wife’s neck. He chose not to,” Mato said.
Prosecutors said Friend plotted Lynne Friend’s murder, and had plenty of time to change his mind, underscoring premeditation that amounts to first degree murder.
After the verdict, prosecutor Michael Von Zamfte said, “It’s really sad because the only child was raised by him. He has never had the opportunity to know his real mother and I don’t know what this is going to mean for him because he is not communicating with us. He’s only communicating with the father.”
Sentencing is expected in about six weeks.
Click here to watch Gary Nelson’s report before the verdict.
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