A year after UGA grad student's murder, his father receives son's degree


Steve and Benjamin Cloer visiting the Grand Canyon in 2015

By Joe Johnson

Steve Cloer lost his son to a killer’s bullets one year ago today, but the hard work that Benjamin Lloyd Cloer had put in toward earning a Master's degree was not overlooked by the University of Georgia.

The university last week gave Steve Cloer his son’s Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence diploma even though the 26-year-old student had not completed all requirements for the degree.

“I’m so happy the university decided to award Benjamin his degree despite him not being able to finish his very last tasks,” Cloer said. “If he had just a few more weeks he would have completed more class credits than is required for his degree. Although Benjamin had his thesis completed, the college required him to work on his thesis for two semesters. Benjamin would have stayed one more additional semester to work on his thesis. He was planning on also taking classes of personal interest to him this additional semester.”

Steve Cloer said receiving his son’s degree was “bittersweet” for him.

“I am so proud of my son but disheartened that he didn’t get to see it and have me tell him how proud I am of him,” he said. “I made several copies of the degree and burnt one and mixed the ashes of the degree with his ashes.

After leaving UGA, Cloer planned to attend Georgia Tech to earn a doctorate in Artificial Intelligence, and after that pursuing a career doing research and development in the A.I.  field, or possibly obtaining professor position, possibly at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Steve Cloer reeived his son's Master's degree from UGA on Nov. 5

Benjamin Cloer was unable to complete his degree requirements at UGA because on Nov. 10, 2019, A former Madison County Sheriff’s deputy allegedly murdered him while in a jealous rage. 

According to Athens-Clarke County police, Winford Terrell “Trey” Adams III shot Cloer multiple times at the victim’s residence on Old Jefferson River Road.

According to court documents, Adams tracked his wife to Cloer’s home by using a GPS app. Adams reportedly thought his wife was cheating on him because she previously told Adams that she was eating with friends.

However, Adams’ wife told a police dispatcher that Cloer was “just my friend. This was a misunderstanding. My husband doesn’t understand he’s just my friend.”

Steve Cloer said that his son enjoyed hosting dinners for friends, and that Adams’ wife was just one of those friends.

Adams was arrested and subsequently indicted for malice murder, felony murder, first-degree home invasion, family violence aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Due to a statewide judicial emergency that tempoarily halted jury trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cases are so backed up in Clarke County Superior Court, that Steve Cloer said he was told by court officials that Adams’ murder case might not go to trial for another three years.

“I feel like I’m in a state of suspension for my emotional healing,” he said. “Seeing justice done for my son won’t bring him back but it will mark a point where myself, his family and friends can hopefully live without undone justice constantly weighing heavy in their hearts.”

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