A third-strike defendant who was released from prison in 2013 under a California voter initiative--and over the objections of Orange County prosecutors--is accused of murder in Oklahoma, officials tell the Weekly.
John Paul Beckmann was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his brother-in-law in Tahlequah, according to police in the northeastern Oklahoma city that's at the foot of the Ozarks.
The 50-year-old, who California prison and law enforcement officials apparently had for years mistakenly identified with only one "n" in his last name, is currently sitting in the Cherokee County Detention Center in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Tahlequah Police Detective Jeff Haney confirms for the Weekly his suspect is the Orange native. "Yep, this is him," Haney said of Beckmann. "He said California messed his name up. He said his name is spelled with two n's."
(It's not a case of Beckmann starting a new life in Oklahoma with an altered last name. Many of his relatives are also Facebook friends who spell their last name with two n's.)
Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald re-sentenced and released Beckman/Beckmann from prison on June 18, 2013, under Proposition 36, which revised California's three strikes law to impose a life sentence only when the new felony conviction is "serious or violent."
Beckmann, who had a string of burglary and possession of stolen property convictions dating back to 1984--and followed by an armed robbery conviction and violent incidents in prison--had previously received a life term under three strikes when he violated his parole.
Upon his release, the Orange County District Attorney's office issued an advisory to warn the public, as a safety precaution:
My copy of the advisory above cuts off the year (1989) as well as a second page that includes Beckmann's most-serious offenses.
On Jan. 2, 1990, Beckman was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation.
On Aug. 1, 1990, Beckman was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance. The sentence for this offense was stayed pending the completion of the sentencing of his August 1990 armed robbery.
On Aug. 22, 1990, Beckman was convicted of one felony count of armed robbery with the use of a gun. He was sentenced to five years in state prison. (Second Strike)
On Feb. 10, 1995, Beckman was convicted of one felony count of commercial burglary and was sentenced to six years in state prison.
On Dec. 7, 2000, Beckman violated his parole. He violated his parole for a second time on April 10, 2002, and a third time on Sept. 23, 2002.
On Sept.10, 2003, Beckman was convicted of one felony count of forgery while he was out of custody on parole. Beckman was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. (Third Strike)
Prosecutors' worst fears were realized last week.
Beckmann, who had been staying with Roger Hawley for several weeks, called 9-1-1 Tuesday night to report he found his brother-in-law lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor.
Haney says in court documents filed Friday that Hawley appeared to have been stabbed to death and suffered from "sharp force trauma" on his left side.
The night of Hawley's death, Beckmann told investigators he was unable to perform CPR on his brother-in-law because he couldn't "put his mouth on someone else and that it 'freaked' him out," says Haney in the affidavit (Hat tip: Tahlequah Daily Press).
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Beckmann also claimed he had been at a casino before arriving home to find Hawley dead. But Haney says a Hawley family member had spoken to the victim the same evening, when Hawley placed a phone on speaker mode so the family member could overhear Hawley and Beckmann arguing.
"Roger Hawley was telling [the family member] he was going to make John Beckmann leave," Haney states. "[She] heard Beckmann tell Roger the only way he would leave was if he killed Roger."
Hawley family members are now raising money for the funeral.