Lawyers are to give closing arguments today in the second trial tied to a home-invasion robbery that left an Edgewood father dead.
Amanda Knight, 22, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree assault. She’s the second of four defendants to go to trial in the slaying of Jim Sanders, 43.
Knight testified Tuesday that she took part in the crimes only because her co-defendants threatened to hurt her and her family if she didn’t.
Knight told jurors that during a court hearing shortly after her arrest that co-defendant Kiyoshi Higashi motioned for her to remain silent, then “ran his finger across his throat.” Knight said she took that to mean he’d kill her if she talked to police.
“They can call anybody and tell them I’m talking,” Knight said.
The “duress defense” cannot be used for a murder charge, but Knight might save herself some prison time if convicted of the murder count but acquitted of the others.
During cross-examination by deputy prosecutor Mary Robnett, Knight testified she never told detectives she’d been threatened.
Robnett also pointed out several inconsistencies between Knight’s testimony and statements she gave Pierce County sheriff’s detectives last spring.
Prosecutors allege Knight and Higashi went to Sanders’ home April 28, 2010, after Sanders listed a diamond ring for sale on Craigslist. The two posed as buyers, and Higashi pulled a gun after they entered the home.
Higashi and Knight bound Sanders and his wife, Charlene, and then signaled to two men waiting outside to enter the house, according to prosecutors.
Those men – Clabon Berniard and Joshua Reese – herded the Sanders’ two sons at gunpoint into the kitchen with their parents, prosecutors allege.
Jim and Charlene Sanders were beaten and threatened with death before Jim Sanders broke free and fought with the robbers, according to testimony during Higashi’s trial.
Sanders was fatally shot, and the robbers fled with jewelry, a laptop computer, cellphones and other items.
A jury found Higashi, 23, guilty of similar charges last month. Berniard and Reese have pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges and await trial.
Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/crime