Courts

North Dade man claims self-defense in killing of intruder

 

Police say Jordan Beswick left his condo, then lay in wait for an intruder to exit before opening fire.

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

When a burglar broke into his North Miami-Dade apartment Monday night, Jordan Beswick grabbed his pistol, hid in the living room and squeezed off a volley of bullets.

Unscathed, the burglar ran to the master bedroom to escape.

Beswick himself ran from the apartment, but he didn’t call police.

Instead, authorities say, Beswick circled around to a bedroom window outside, waited three minutes, then fired at least eight more shots as the unarmed intruder tried to escape through the window. The suspect, Bryan Antonio DeJesus, 22, crumpled to the bedroom floor, dead.

The charge for Beswick: second-degree murder.

The unique case is bound to test Florida’s controversial self-defense law that critics say promotes vigilantism but supporters contend allows citizens to protect themselves from criminals.

Defense lawyer Gawane Grant, in a preliminary hearing Thursday, cited the “Stand Your Ground” law in asking for bail for Beswick, 19, who has no criminal history.

“He had the absolute right to defend himself inside his own home,” Grant said.

Miami-Dade prosecutor Dawn Kulick countered that Beswick was no longer threatened after he fired his weapon the first time, then left the apartment.

“He no longer needed to use force to defend himself,” she told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Monica Gordo, who ordered Beswick to be held in jail without bond.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law — which eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using lethal force to counter a threat — has come under intense scrutiny in recent months.

Last year, Sanford police initially cited the law in not arresting a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, during a scuffle.

Prosecutors later charged the man, George Zimmerman, with second-degree murder. He is awaiting trial.

In response to the uproar, Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force to study the effects of the law, which critics say has led to a rise in homicides. This week, Trayvon’s mother called for a repeal of the law, pushed through by the National Rifle Association. The NRA is now fighting a bitter and very public battle against gun control advocates in the wake of last month’s deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Florida prosecutors say the law is vexing because it allows judges — before jurors hear the facts — greater leeway in tossing out a case.

In Miami-Dade, judges have thrown out at least three murder cases based on the “immunity” claim.

The most controversial: the case of Greyston Garcia, who, armed with a knife, chased down and fatally stabbed a thief who had broken into his truck and stolen his radio in Little Havana.

A judge in March ruled that Garcia acted in self defense in January 2011 because the thief wielded a heavy bag of car radios that could have been used to cause “serious bodily injury or death.”

Beswick has yet to be formally charged at arraignment. Any Stand Your Ground immunity hearing is likely months away.

Records show DeJesus has been arrested at least eight times since age 15, mostly for minor drug, trespassing and vehicle theft charges.

Beswick lives with his mother in a first-floor condominium on the 800 block of Northeast 209th Terrace.

On Monday, he was home alone watching television about 11 p.m. when he heard a knock at the door. He did not answer, then heard someone trying to enter through the condo’s sliding glass door.

Miami-Dade detective Maria Mederos testified Thursday that Beswick, armed with a pistol, lay down on the tile floor near the living room and waited five minutes for the burglar to enter.

DeJesus, 22, emerged from inside a rear bedroom. Beswick saw a shadow and fired seven times. DeJesus fled back into the bedroom.

Beswick ran through the front door, around the building. A few yards away, he saw “the victim’s hands part the window blinds” in an attempt to climb out. Beswick fired the last fatal volley, according to Mederos’ arrest report.

“He still didn’t know how many guys were inside and whether or not they were armed,” Grant said Thursday evening. “He was still in fear.”

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