John Beckmeyer was arrested in August of 2020 after he shot and killed twenty-four-year-old James McDonald. After a trial that spanned three weeks, the jury convicted Mr. Beckmeyer of murder in the second degree, two counts of assault in the second degree, and assault in the fourth degree.
At the sentencing hearing Deputy Prosecutor Chris Ashcraft argued that a standard range sentence was appropriate. According to Mr. Ashcraft the Defendant started the altercation by striking his girlfriend, Danielle Boucher, because she would not turn down her radio. In response to the blow to Ms. Boucher’s head, Randi Benson and James McDonald confronted the Defendant, yelling at him and telling him not to hit a woman. The Defendant then became angry, threatened to get his Colt .45, then walked the thirty feet to the 5th wheel trailer in which he lived. A short time later, the Defendant fired nine shots out of the bedroom window, several of which went over the women’s heads and two of which struck and killed Mr. McDonald.
Defense counsel argued for a sentence below the standard range, approximately ten years, based upon the Defendant’s medical condition, lack of criminal history, and due to the fact he believed he was acting in self-defense.
Mr. Ashcraft responded there were no mitigating factors warranting a sentence below the standard range because the Defendant started the entire incident by striking his girlfriend and all of the physical evidence contradicted his claim of self-defense.
The Honorable Judge Keith Harper found there was no evidence to support a sentence outside of the standard range, and in particular that there was no evidence that the victim was a willing participant in the incident. The Judge sentenced the Defendant to:
215 months – murder in the second degree with a firearm;
17.5 months – assault in the second degree with a firearm for shooting at Danielle Boucher;
17.5 months – assault in the second degree with a firearm for shooting at Randi Benson; and
364 days – assault in the fourth-degree, domestic violence, for striking Danielle Boucher.
60 months was added to the murder charge for the use of a firearm.
36 months was added to each of the assault charges for the use of a firearm.
347 months of total confinement with the firearm enhancements and murder charges being served consecutively.
The Defendant is to be transported to the Department of Corrections in Shelton where he will be initially classified prior to being transferred to another facility.
Prosecutor James Kennedy praised the hard work put in by everyone involved in the case. “This is a total team effort. The WSP crime lab, King County Medical Examiner, Detective Frank from the Sheriff’s Office, Detective Stuart from the Police Department, and everyone on my prosecution team and in local law enforcement worked together to get justice for the McDonald family. It is an honor to work with so many dedicated professionals.”