BELTON — A man accused of killing two people in a high-speed crash in April 2012 was found guilty of murder Wednesday afternoon.
Jurors found John Stanton Beasley Jr., a 23-year-old from North Carolina, guilty in the deaths of Killeen resident Tamojeane Tambakis, 39, and James Carl Broland, 33, of New York, after leading Killeen police on a high-speed chase near downtown April 14.
Jurors began deliberations Wednesday afternoon following testimony from witnesses and closing arguments.
Data from the Chevrolet Tahoe that Beasley was driving showed the vehicle reached speeds of up to 89 mph before it crashed into a utility pole, snapping it into three pieces.
Witnesses for the prosecution Wednesday included medical staff from Fort Hood’s Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and Scott & White Hospital in Temple, who said Beasley smelled of alcohol when he was brought in for treatment after the crash.
Medical records showed Beasley had “high” levels of alcohol in his system when he was brought to the hospitals, and was nearly twice the legal limit for intoxication under state law, according to Roland Oliver, a technical supervisor for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Lab tests showed Beasley tested inconclusive for cocaine and marijuana.
On the stand Wednesday, Beasley said his actions were because of Broland, who threatened him with a weapon.
“He applied pressure to my rib cage and said ‘drive the effing truck,’” Beasley said.
Upon cross-examination, Beasley denied using drugs but admitted to drinking alcohol before the incident, though he said it didn’t play a role in his memory of events.
“Alcohol didn’t have nothing to do with this,” he said.
During closing statements, Beasley’s attorney, Steve Lee, argued that his client’s actions were the result of Broland threatening him with a weapon. A knife was recovered inside the car with some blood on it, according to police.
“Nobody knows what was happening in that car,” Lee said.
Prosecutors told the jury that Beasley’s story was unlikely.
“The defense wants you to blame everyone else,” lead prosecutor Shelley Strimple said. “(Beasley) doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own actions.”
Beasley could face life in prison. His sentencing will begin at 9 a.m. today in the 426th District Court in Belton.
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.