MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Clifford Friend was found guilty of second degree murder just before 10:00 p.m. Friday night.
He was convicted of killing his wife, Lynne, 20 years ago, even though her body was never located.
The testimony of one witness helped to lead jurors to convict Friend, the friend of Friend, who was called to allegedly help dump the wife’s body in the ocean.
The jury believed that’s what happened, but jurors did not believe the husband plotted to kill her ahead of time.
Friend’s trial lasted two weeks, but it took the jury just five hours to find Friend guilty.
“We the jury find the defendant guilty of second degree murder.”
Prosecutors said Lynne went over to her estranged husband’s home to pick up a child support check.
She had just won custody of their five-year-old son.
The jury believed Clifford Friend strangled Lynne, enraged that she would be the one to raise him.
Friend recruited his pal, Alan Gold, to help him dump her body in the ocean.
Prosecutors charged Friend with first degree murder, but the jury came back with a lesser charge.
“We were looking for first but we’re very comfortable and happy with second,” said Michael Von Zamft with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office. “It’s taken 20 plus years to get here. We were looking for vindication for Lynne Friend. We got it.”
“If there’s any silver lining, which I can’t really say it is, is it is a lesser charge,” said Peter Heller, Clifford Friend’s attorney.
During the trial, Friend’s defense team maintained that without a body, there wasn’t enough evidence to find Friend guilty.
They also attacked the star witness, Alan Gold, for being a criminal who said whatever prosecutors wanted in exchange for immunity.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed. We intend to take this further. We believe there are many grounds for appeals,” added Heller.
Lynne and Friend’s son, did not want to speak after the verdict and left court flanked by security guards, one of whom pointed an umbrella at cameras. Friend’s son, Christian, supported his father during the trial.
Christian was just five when his mother was killed.
“I feel bad for Christian Friend because he lost his mother, but you know what, but by his father’s choice,” said Von Zamft. “So at least he had 20 years with him. She had nothing.”
Prosecutors said they will seek the maximum sentence when Friend’s punishment comes down in about six weeks. The sentencing guidelines will be used from the 1990s when the murder happened.
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