BELTON — Jurors in the trial of John Stanton Beasley Jr. were shown numerous videos and photographs Tuesday of the police pursuit and crash that led to the deaths of two people.
At one point, a juror requested a photo depicting the crushed Chevrolet Tahoe that Beasley allegedly drove to be removed from an overhead projector. The photo had been taken shortly after the crash and showed one person who eventually died as a result of the crash.
Tuesday’s proceedings were dominated by testimony from numerous Killeen Police Department officers who responded to the car pursuit. It also included testimony from two medical examiners who explained how the crash caused the deaths of two passengers in the car.
Beasley, 23, was charged with two counts of murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
He is accused of leading Killeen police on a high-speed chase near downtown Killeen on April 14 that caused the death of Tamojeane Tambakis and James Carl Broland.
Tuesday’s testimony began with the dashboard camera video of Officer Devin Zepeda. It depicted the 2 minutes and 37 seconds between when Zepeda began pursuing the Chevrolet Tahoe and when it crashed at the intersection of College Street and Church Avenue.
Zepeda was responding to a call of a disturbance at Action Pawn on Fort Hood Street. He followed the car from Fort Hood Street to the crash site.
Zepeda was a field-trainee at the time. It was the first major car crash and crime he had worked.
“I was shocked,” Zepeda testified, telling the court of how he spotted one of the victims gasping for air as he approached the wrecked vehicle. “He literally was like a dying fish out of water.”
Jurors later learned that the Tahoe, which police said Beasley was driving, was going as fast as 89 mph in the final seconds before the crash, according to testimony from Keith Potvin.
It was headed north on College Street, a bumpy and uneven road with a 30 mph speed limit, when the driver failed to negotiate a curve and the vehicle flew off the road. The force of the 6,300-pound sport utility vehicle propelled it through a utility pole, snapping it into three pieces.
Potvin, the crash scene investigator for the incident, told the court the Tahoe flipped end over end, striking an oak tree about 10 feet up in the air and coming to rest on its roof.
An arrest affidavit stated Beasley ran from police. However, Beasley had been ejected from the vehicle, testimony Tuesday showed.
He did get to his feet, but only made it about five to six steps before he collapsed and was detained by police.
Beasley’s attorney, Steve Lee, argued Monday that his client ran from police because other passengers threatened him with a knife. A knife was recovered inside the car with some blood on it.
Beasley gave a written statement to police, but never mentioned being threatened. He stated the last thing he remembered before waking up in the hospital was drinking alcohol at a party.
Testimony continues at 9 a.m. today in the 426th District Court in Belton. Judge Fancy Jezek is presiding.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553