By Neal Putnam
A gay couple testified April 4 about their shock of being awakened by an intruder wearing only boxer shorts in their home and demanding they give him clothes and shoes.
The two men testified in the preliminary hearing of Cliff Edwards, Jr., 50, who afterwards was ordered to stand trial for residential burglary and two counts of robbery.
Both Mark Dylan Renfro and his boyfriend Robert Alva said they were first alerted when their dog began barking. Then they saw the man at the foot of their bed at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27.
They were living in the 2300 block of Curlew Street in the Bankers Hill area when they discovered the man had somehow broken into their residence. They both identified Edwards as the burglar.
“He was just standing there…only wearing boxers. He was erratic looking,” said Renfro. “He had crazy eyes, looking all around.”
“I didn’t know if he had taken his clothes off (inside). He kept demanding clothes,” said Renfro. “I feared for my life.”
“Someone’s after me. Give me clothes,” Renfro quoted Edwards as saying.
Renfro told San Diego Superior Court Judge Jay Bloom he found some sweatpants and an olive shirt in his laundry hamper and gave them to him.
“He immediately put them on. He said he wouldn’t leave without shoes,” said Renfro.
“I told him the shoes were outside,” said Alva, who said the man went outside and Renfro locked the door behind him.
“I was incredibly frightened. He said he would not hurt us if we gave him clothing,” said Alva, who added the man demanded clothing three to four times.
“Dylan grabbed whatever was on top (in the hamper) and gave it to him,” said Alva.
“He was sweating, his eyes were dilated. I assumed he was on some hard drug,” said Alva, who said he grabbed his cellphone and called 911.
“Please don’t call the police, he begged,” said Alva, who quoted Edwards as saying, “I’m not a bad person. They’re coming after me.”
“He sounded like he was under the influence,” added Alva.
The couple said a police officer showed up within five minutes and they gave him a description of the intruder. Police later arrested the barefoot man walking down the street and the couple identified him separately at a facility while he was wearing the clothes they gave him.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber showed the judge a photo of Edwards wearing the unbuttoned shirt and pants he was given.
Renfro said the screen door to their unit was unlocked, but the front door was locked before they went to bed. A photo of the lock on the door was shown in court and it shows a striker metal plate is missing from the door lock.
Renfro said he thought Edwards “used a tool to get in” their residence.
Edwards has a prior conviction for burglary in 2009 and attempted robbery in 2015. The robbery charge involving the couple alleges he forced them to give him clothes by force or fear during a burglary.
Edwards’ attorney, Liza Suwczinsky, said afterwards that if Edwards is convicted, he could face a maximum term of 35 years to life in prison as part of a “three strike” sentence.
Suwczinsky said she did not know the circumstances as to how Edwards was only wearing boxer shorts when he asked the couple for clothes.
The judge dismissed two counts of dissuading a witness from testifying and scheduled a trial date of May 24.
Edwards pleaded not guilty at the end of the hearing and he remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $500,000 bail.
— Neal Putnam is a local freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.