Judge convicts Des Moines man for murdering Randi Light

Published 9/15/2023 2:21:58 PM

Polk County District Judge Heather Lauber found Clarence Edward Reed Jr. guilty of first-degree murder of Randi Light on Friday.

On Feb. 26, 2022, Mr. Reed placed a 911 call, reporting that a woman was dead. He proceeded to tell the dispatchers he was doing CPR, which later was determined to be false.  Upon officers’ arrival, they located Ms. Light, 35, a Des Moines native and a mother, in the living room of the couples’ shared apartment in the 2700 block of SW 23rd Street in Des Moines.  Ms. Light and Mr. Reed had been in a relationship for two years and lived together at the time of the murder. Firefighters and medics attempted to help Ms. Light but where unsuccessful due to the severity of her injuries.

The defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and the bench trial began Aug. 22, 2023.

Mr. Reed attempted to rely on self-defense; however, when confronted with his statements and the evidence, the court found he was not justified. The defendant told detectives the two were arguing, and he alleged Ms. Light swung a hammer at him. Mr. Reed said he went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and confronted her in the living room.  He told police he “blacked out,” and things “went overboard.” Photographs revealed Mr. Reed did not have any physical injuries.

Law enforcement located three knives, which later were determined to have Ms. Light’s blood on them.  In addition, a hammer was located in the bedroom, which also had her blood on it.  An autopsy found signs of strangulation and defensive wounds, highlighting the brutal nature of the assault she endured.

Crime Scene Investigator Cody Brigman of the Des Moines Police Department testified to bloodstain patterns in the bedroom, which were inconsistent with the defendant’s version of events and indicated that Ms. Light had been stabbed multiple times in both the bedroom and living room. 

Scene-To-Go, a laser-scanning software designed by FARO, was used in this case with the assistance of CSI Kevin Risk. This technology creates a 3-D model of the crime scene, which allows the viewer to be virtually at the scene.  This technology, which has been used nationwide, had not been used in a Polk County court case until this trial. 

First-degree murder carries a sentence of mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole.  

The case was prosecuted by Assistant County Attorneys Shannon Bogolin and Brad Kinkade, with assistance from Lindsay Scott. Detectives Peter Wilson and Daniel Follett investigated the case with other officers from the Des Moines Police Department.

Ms. Light's family has launched a group Facebook page in memory of her.


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