John Paul Beckmeyer, 59, appeared Monday in Jefferson County Superior Court by closed-circuit video feed from the Jefferson County Jail in Port Hadlock, where he remains in custody on $200,000 bail following the death of a 24-year-old Nordland man last Wednesday.
Beckmeyer was charged with first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree assault.
Defense attorney Richard Davies of Jefferson Associated Counsel told Judge Keith Harper his client is claiming self defense in regard to the murder and assault charges, and he is not guilty of the fourth-degree assault charge.
Harper scheduled a two-week jury trial for Oct. 26-29 and Nov. 2-5. Beckmeyer’s next court date is set for Sept. 25.
Beckmeyer fired his .22-caliber semi-automatic Ruger pistol at least nine times following a domestic dispute last week in the 200 block of Griffith Point Road in Nordland on Marrowstone Island, according to a supplemental report filed Sunday by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Art Frank.
Two of those rounds struck James McDonald in the chest, according to an autopsy conducted by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. McDonald died at the scene.
On the evening of the shooting, Beckmeyer and his girlfriend, Danielle Boucher, were barbecuing and drinking alcohol with McDonald and his girlfriend, Randi Benson, according to Frank’s incident report.
Beckmeyer and Boucher live in a fifth-wheel trailer on the property, and McDonald and Benson had been living in a house on the property with Benson’s grandfather, according to the report.
Beckmeyer told Boucher to turn down her radio and she refused, prompting Beckmeyer to strike Boucher in the face with his hand, according to the report. McDonald and Benson then told Beckmeyer not to hit a woman. Beckmeyer responded by walking into the trailer saying aloud that he was getting his gun, according to the report.
McDonald then walked into the house and returned with an open, double-barrel shotgun, telling Benson he would defend himself, according to the report.
As Beckmeyer began firing without warning from inside the trailer in the direction of McDonald, Benson and Boucher, Benson ran to the house to call 911, according to the report. Benson later told detectives she was afraid Beckmeyer might shoot her in the back as she ran to the house, according to the report.
When first responders arrived, they found McDonald’s shotgun on the ground still in the open position, meaning it could not be fired, according to the report.
McDonald’s father, Shane McDonald, created a GoFundMe page following the death of his son in order to help pay funeral costs and allow family in the Pensacola, Fla., area to travel to Jefferson County. As of Monday afternoon, that fundraiser had collected $3,547 of its $10,000 goal.
“We are getting close to funeral cost and we are trying to send Bobbi, James’ mom, up to be with Randi, his girlfriend (wife in God’s eyes and ours), until we raise enough to get the rest of us there,” Shane McDonald wrote on the page Saturday.
James McDonald had lived in Washington for 3½ years, according to the page.
“I don’t know how to move forward without him,” Shane McDonald wrote. “It’s not right.”
Jefferson County reporter Nicholas Johnson can be reached by email at [email protected].