Miami jury deliberates Asperger's teen's fate in dad's shooting death

Nov. 18, 2013 at 6:15 PM
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MIAMI, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Jurors Monday deliberated whether a young Florida man accidentally or cold-bloodedly shot his father to death while he was in the shower.

Prosecutors told jurors Jason Beckman, then a student at South Miami High School, assembled a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded the weapon, waited for his father to get in the shower and then he shot him, The Miami Herald reported.

"He leveled that shotgun, aimed it and he fired," prosecutor Gail Levine told jurors during closing arguments of Beckman's trial for murder.

Beckman's defense attorney, Herb Smith, said events differed from the prosecution's account and argued the April 2009 shooting was accidental.

Smith sought unsuccessfully to tell jurors about Beckman's diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome -- a condition marked by average to even high intelligence but the inability to socialize normally or form emotional relationships -- which he argued could have contributed to the incident. A judge ruled because no expert could expressly link the diagnosis to a role in Jay Beckman's death the syndrome would not be part of evidence presented during the trial.

Prosecutors brought in a string of Beckman's classmates who said in the months and years before the shooting, the younger Beckman, now 21, kept an updated list of enemies, his father's name always at the top. Witnesses testified the younger Beckman regularly spoke openly of his desire to kill his father. A neighbor said he showed her the gun used in the shooting a week before it happened.

Smith told jurors the neighbor overheard Beckman shouting for help and to call 911 in the moments after the shooting.

"Oh my God, somebody call 911," Smith quoted the neighbor as hearing.

"You know those words tell you Jason Beckman did not intend to kill his father," Smith said.

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