BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The mastermind behind the crime. That's how the family felt about Susan Clevenger after her conviction in the death of Bradly St. Clair in 2001. However, due to new legislation, Clevenger's conviction has been reduced.
While Clevenger will continue to serve a life sentence, due to changes made in SB 1437, she was found eligible to have her murder conviction reduced to the lesser-involved felony, which was kidnapping.. Her other two life sentence convictions are not affected by the change.
"She is and was a major participant. She was the mastermind behind all this," said Elisa St. Clair-Danforth, Brad's wife when she spoke with 23ABC in 2019.
Clevenger was convicted in 2001 for the kidnapping and murder of her boss, Bradley St. Clair, along with her boyfriend Keith Bryan Shell. According to court documents, the two plotted to kidnap St. Clair and hold him for ransom. During the crime, a struggle ensued and Brad was found tied to a chair and strangled with a necktie.
Clevenger has attempted to appeal her convictions for over a decade, claiming she was not a major participant in the crime. But Brad's family doesn't agree.
Even though the change in her murder conviction reduced her life sentence on that charge, Brad's wife said her participation in the crime was the ultimate betrayal. She said Clevenger had worked for Brad for over a year and a half before that fateful night.
Clevenger's boyfriend, Shell, was also convicted of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and kidnap for ransom causing death. He is currently serving a life sentence.
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Ultimately, Brad's family still wonders if there is more to the story.
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, a blood sample collected at the scene of the murder was not connected to either Clevenger, Shell or St. Clair. At least two of Clevenger's siblings have said that she approached them beforehand discussing the kidnapping.
The Kern County Secret Witness program issued a $75,000 reward for information surrounding the case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call 661-322-4040, or the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.