Nordland man found guilty of second-degree murder

Sentencing expected later this month

PORT TOWNSEND — A jury found a Nordland man guilty of second-degree murder with a firearm after a fatal shooting of a man last August.

The jury late Tuesday afternoon found John Paul Beckmeyer, 60, guilty of shooting and killing James McDonald, 24, of Nordland on Aug. 25 and assaulting two women during the event.

Second-degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Beckmeyer also was found guilty of second-degree assault with a firearm against Randi Benson and Danielle Boucher, and fourth-degree assault with domestic violence against Boucher.

Second-degree assault is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine, while fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Beckmeyer’s next court appearance is expected to be July 23 for sentencing or a status hearing, depending on administrative paperwork, and he will remain in the Jefferson County Jail on $200,000 bail.

Beckmeyer was initially charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault but was found not guilty of those charges.

Jefferson County Prosecutor James Kennedy praised his two deputy prosecutors and law enforcement in a press release issued Wednesday.

“It took a huge amount of work by our office team, the deputy prosecutors involved, and law enforcement to get justice for the victims,” he said.

“I truly appreciate the hard work that everyone puts in on a daily basis.”

Chris Ashcraft, Jefferson County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, litigated the case along with Deputy Prosecutor Anna Phillips.

“Ms. Phillips did an outstanding job of summarizing the facts and showing the jury that Mr. McDonald was trying to protect himself and the two other victims when he was shot,” Ashcraft said in the press release.

“Based on their verdict, it appears the jury agreed with her analysis, and we hope this verdict brings some solace to Mr. McDonald’s friends and family.”

On Aug. 25, 2020, Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies and Port Townsend police officers investigated a report of a man shot in the chest in the 200 block of Griffith Point Road in Nordland, according to a probable cause report written by Deputy Art Frank.

Upon arrival, deputies found James McDonald with at least one gunshot wound lying unresponsive on the ground outside a fifth-wheel trailer.

Paramedics confirmed that McDonald was deceased, Frank said.

Deputies found Beckmeyer inside the fifth-wheel trailer with a firearm before they took him into custody, according to the report.

Prior to the shooting, McDonald and Benson, both of whom had been living in a house on the property with Benson’s grandfather, were outside barbecuing and drinking alcohol with Beckmeyer and Boucher, Beckmeyer’s girlfriend, both of whom live in the trailer, according to the report.

Beckmeyer complained to Boucher that her radio was too loud and asked her to turn it down. When she didn’t, Beckmeyer struck Boucher in the face with his hand, prompting Benson and McDonald to tell Beckmeyer not to hit a woman, according to the report.

Beckmeyer then walked into the trailer, saying ‘I’m gonna to get my .45,’ ” referring to a Colt .45 pistol that the four knew he owned and that it was in the fifth-wheel, Ashcraft said during opening statements on June 16.

McDonald walked into the house and returned minutes later with an open double-barrel shotgun, indicating it could not readily be fired, Ashcraft said.

Seeing McDonald with the gun, Beckmeyer stuck his hand out of the fifth-wheel and fired nine shots; seven went over the two women’s heads and into another trailer, and two struck and killed McDonald, Ashcraft said.

Frank reported seeing additional bullet holes in the side of the trailer.

Not only did McDonald not fire his gun, he couldn’t have done so, Ashcraft said.

The break-action shotgun McDonald was holding was broken open — so it could be loaded and hence was unable to be fired — and was found open with one unused shell loaded, Ashcraft said.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at zjablonski@peninsuladailynews.com.

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