Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Michael L. Tucker sentenced Beatty-Jones about a half hour after the jury convicted him of murder, attempted murder and four counts of felonious assault.
For sentencing purposes, the felonious assault charges merged with the murder and attempted murder counts. Tucker sentenced Beatty-Jones to 10 years for the attempted murder of William St. Peter and 18 to life for the slaying of James C. Locker. Those two sentences, both of which include three years for firearms specifications, are to be served consecutively.
Earlier, St. Peter asked Tucker to sentence him to the maximum possible, for “what the man’s done, taking the life of Jim and scrambling mine.” Assistant county prosecutor Tracey Ballard Tangeman asked for the same “given the ridiculousness of the testimony of the defendant.”
Defense attorney Doug Hess noted the absence of any adult felony record and Beatty-Jones’ youth.
Beatty-Jones, 21, told Tucker “I didn’t mean it. I accept responsibility for what I did.”
Tucker gave the case to the jury at 11:43 a.m. The jurors deliberated for less than two hours before returning the verdicts, which were announced about 2:15 p.m.
Beatty-Jones admitted shooting Locker and St. Peter, two Moonlight Security guards, on March 30 but claimed he fired in self-defense.
St. Peter, shot in the chest, arm and thumb, testified Tuesday. Locker, shot in the side, died at Miami Valley Hospital on April 3, his 51st birthday.
During her closing argument Friday morning, assistant county prosecutor Michelle Grodner described the guards working at the Western Manor apartments on James H. McGee Boulevard as “two men doing their jobs. These men never had a chance”
Grodner noted that St. Peter was shot twice in the chest, including one shot that was dead center and would have hit his heart or his main blood vessels.
“William St. Peter is alive today because he wore a bullet-proof vest,” Grodner said. “Those were direct hits.”
St. Peter testified Tuesday that he and Locker were investigating a parked truck with lights on. Inside was Jodi Grigsby, a friend of Beatty-Jones, who was waiting for him. He said he moved away from the truck and waited in a different part of the property for Beatty-Jones to return to the truck.
Defense attorney Doug Hess said that the shootings were tragic, but that the guards escalated the situation by not following standard procedures, including making themselves visible and using verbal commands. He said St. Peter hid and came up behind Beatty-Jones as he was returning to the truck.
Hess acknowledged that Beatty-Jones was not cooperative, even telling guards he did not remember his birthday, and combative, but did so in reaction to the guards.
“He was tired of being hassled by these guys,” Hess said.
Beatty-Jones pushed away from the truck when Locker began patting him down, and the guards struggled with him, tried to handcuff him, then pepper sprayed him, heightening the situation significantly, Hess said. When one of them yelled “gun,” Beatty-Jones pulled his weapon and began firing, Hess said.
“He thought he was going to get shot,” Hess said. “He felt that it was going to be his life if he didn’t do something. That’s self-defense.”
Assistant county prosecutor Tracey Ballard Tangeman disagreed, telling the jury that, under the law, the defendant bears the burden of proving a self-defense claim by the preponderance of the evidence, a lesser standard than reasonable doubt.
Tangeman said Beatty-Jones must prove that he wasn’t at fault in starting or escalating the incident, that he had an honest, reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger of death, and that he had no other means to escape besides deadly force. None of the evidence would support any of those elements, Tangeman said.
“The defendant emptied his clip into the bodies of these two men for a pat down he didn’t think he deserved,” she said.
Source:Dayton Daily News
The other security guard shot, William St. Peter, 54, was still in Miami Valley Hospital. His condition was not listed.
Police said Tuesday that the security guard wearing a protective vest during the shooting was in stable condition and expected to go home soon, while the other guard, shot in the torso, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and had undergone emergency surgery.
Christopher Beatty-Jones, the suspect in the shooting, which occurred around 1 a.m. Tuesday, was taken into custody at his home at 3933 Prescott Ave. shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday. He was booked into the Montgomery County Jail on a felonious assault charge.
The guards were shot when questioning a passenger, Jodi Grigsby, in the vehicle Beatty-Jones had fled upon their approach. Beatty-Jones returned and fired five times at the officers, hitting each one of them once.
Just last week, on March 22, Grigsby and Beatty-Jones were together near the Summit Square Apartments when Grigsby was shot in the arm, according to a police report, which stated Beatty-Jones said he was there to buy $50 worth of marijuana when someone shot at their vehicle.