A Key Largo man will spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury convicted him Thursday on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
Andrew Scott Beckner, 45, shot and killed his girlfriend, Georgia Morgan, on Aug. 24, 2007 inside a mobile home in the Silver Shores development near mile marker 96 in Key Largo. Morgan was 46 at the time of her death.
County Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia sentenced Beckner to two life sentences for the murder and kidnapping charges, to be served concurrently, and another 30 years on the assault charge.
Monroe County deputies testified Beckner fired on them with a .45-caliber pistol that morning and Deputy Robert Dodge returned fire with two shots from his .40-caliber pistol.
When Beckner surrendered after a six-hour standoff, Morgan’s dead body was found in the home with gunshot wounds to the head and arm. Beckner’s defense hinged on there being no eyewitnesses to the shooting of Morgan and that she may have been struck by Dodge’s bullets and not Beckner’s. No bullets were found in Morgan’s body or the home during the investigation. Investigators also searched under the mobile home and could not find the bullet that killed Morgan.
Karen Kass, a friend of the couple, testified she had several telephone conversations with Beckner and Morgan the afternoon and evening before the shooting. Kass said Beckner sounded as though he had been drinking, and Morgan told Kass she was afraid of him. There was a history of domestic abuse in the relationship.
Kass said during one phone call with Morgan she heard what she thought was a gunshot in the background, so she called 911. She said that during a later phone call around 11 p.m., Morgan was angry with her after deputies visited the home.
“I told them both to stop drinking or something bad was going to happen,” Kass said.
Martin Colleran, Beckner’s stepfather, testified he received a call from Beckner shortly before 8 a.m. the day of the shooting.
“I couldn’t hardly understand him, he was so upset, but he said ‘she’s dead, she’s dead,’” Colleran said.
Lt. Tom Brazil of the sheriff’s office said he was the crisis negotiator during the standoff and had several phone conversations with Beckner. Brazil said Beckner was “very emotional and upset.” He said he threatened deputies and said he wanted officers to shoot and kill him, a situation Brazil called “suicide by cop.”
Brazil said he asked Beckner if he was drunk and got the reply, “Damn right I am.” He also said during one of the calls Beckner said Morgan was dead and that he had shot her.
Detective Terry Smith was the lead investigator for the case and said when he interviewed Beckner following his arrest, Beckner asked if Florida has the death penalty. When Smith said yes, Becker said, “Good, because I killed her,” Smith testified.
The jury deliberated less than two hours before returning the guilty verdicts on the maximum charges.