They heard five days of shocking testimony about kill lists, Oedipal hatred and a movie star, but last night jurors in South Miami, Fla., took just two hours to find Jason Beckman, 21, guilty of murdering his well-respected father as the former city commissioner showered.
According to the prosecution, Beckman, 17 years old in April 2009 when the crime took place, coolly hand-assembled a 12-gauge shotgun, walked into the bathroom as his 52-year-old dad, Jay Beckman, a civil engineer, former public official and president of his local homeowner’s association, took a shower.
He then calmly blew his father’s head off.
Jurors heard hours of testimony from the younger Beckman’s high school classmates, who told in detail of how the young man railed with hatred against his father. Beckman’s defense attempted to assert that those outbursts resulted from Beckman’s mental disability.
Beckman (pictured, in prison garb) has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild but damaging form of autism which causes social maladjustment and severe difficulty relating to other people. But Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith would not allow Beckman’s ailment to be used in his defense.
The prosecution also presented a jailhouse informant who said that Beckman, while in custody awaiting trial, confessed the premeditated murder to him.
Michael Nistal testified that Beckman said he decided to kill his father when, after showing his dad a picture of sex-symbol movie actress Megan Fox, the elder Beckman joked, “You wouldn’t know what to do with that.”
According to his classmates at South Miami High School, the derisive remark about teenage Beckman’s sexual capabilities would have been just the last straw. Beckman seethed with Oedipal rage toward his father, holding him somehow responsible for the death of his mother from cancer five years earlier.
They also said that he hated his father’s tolerance of minorities and gay people. But the judge would not allow testimony about Beckman’s own bigotry.
He also considered his father stupid, Beckman’s high school acquaintances said, testifying that Beckman discussed his scheme to murder his father for weeks in advance of carrying out the deadly act.
They even said he kept a kill list of people who, in his mind, had betrayed or somehow offended him. His father was at the top of that list, one student testified.
After the verdict was read, a reporter heard Beckman say, “I don’t understand what went wrong.”