Beard Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of Kelley Clayton

Local News

The man convicted of killing Kelley Clayton in September 2015 has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Michael Beard, 45, received the maximum sentence after being found guilty in November 2016 of one count of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. For the second-degree murder charge, Beard received 25 years to life in prison. Both sentences will be served concurrently. 

Kelley’s sister, Kim Bourgeois, gave a statement and showed pictures of Kelley’s children for Beard to see before she sat down.

Bourgeois said Beard’s actions removed himself from his kid’s lives and Kelley’s children’s lives and that “in my eyes, you, Michael Beard, are a coward.”

“I wanted him to be aware how his actions have affected more than just himself,” Bourgeois said. “I mean the impact that it’s had on my sister’s children is irreversible. They’ll never get their mother back, ever.”

District Attorney Weeden Wetmore had also asked for all possible maximum sentences on all charges as he described it was one of the worse cases he has seen. Wetmore said this was a plan to kill someone for the “paltry sum of $10,000” and that Beard showed no mercy whatsoever. 

“Absolutely, under the facts of this case, murder-for-hire, especially with the home invasion, and killing a mother of two young children” Wetmore said. “We’re very satisfied with the outcome.”

Upon arriving in court, Beard’s attorneys said he was wearing a custody control belt during his trial that the attorneys and Judge Peter Bradstreet were not aware of.

Beard’s defense lawyer, Kevin Van Allen, asked the court to uphold a maximum sentence for the “true predator” in this case, referring to Thomas Clayton. The defense lawyer said Beard would be 71-years-old before the possibility of parole and asked for less than the maximum sentence. 

It was then Beard’s turn to speak. He said there was no reason why he should ever wear the custody belt, which he said shocks him if he said the wrong thing in court. 

Beard said he didn’t kill Kelley or have anything to do with her death and even described Kelley as a friend of his. He said he’s sorry for her family and that he feels their pain and grief.

“He’s looking for anything that he feels might help him on appeal,” Wetmore said following the sentencing, in response to Beard’s statement. “It’s nonsense. We’ll deal with it later.”

Judge Bradstreet said that he does not see that there was any “inappropriate handling” of this case by the prosecution or defense. “Evidence was substantial that led to the verdict. I’m not persuaded that the defendant is innocent,” Judge Bradstreet said. 

“During the trial and during our summation, we pointed out issues of reasonable doubt, that there were gaps in the science,” Van Allen said after the sentencing. “I stand by those actions and assertions and I’ll let my client’s words speak for themselves.”

A third man, Mark Blandford, who also faces charges in connection with Kelley’s murder, then made an appearance in court. 

Blandford initially faced charges of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of burglary and two counts of conspiracy, but Wetmore said those charges would be reduced to second-degree manslaughter in exchange for his testimony in Clayton’s trial. Wetmore confirmed with Kelley’s family that they are in agreement with the plea bargain. 

Wetmore said Blandford’s role was much less than that of Beard and Clayton. According to Wetmore, Blandford agreed to ride with Beard to the Clayton home, in exchange for money, and thought that Beard was burning the home down. Wetmore said that when Beard left the vehicle and returned, Blandford knew Beard had killed someone.

Wetmore recommends Blandford receive a prison sentence of 3-6 years, saying his conduct recklessly caused the death of Kelley, regardless of not knowing Beard’s true intentions. 

Judge Bradstreet then found Blandford guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Blandford is scheduled to be sentenced on April 17.

Clayton was convicted of first- and second-degree murder on Feb. 23 in connection with his wife’s death after a nearly seven-week trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 24.

Tune in to 18 News and visit MyTwinTiers.com for continuing coverage.

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