Missouri man gets 31 years in Alton murder
May 5, 2009 - 10:28 PM
By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT
EDWARDSVILLE - A murderer who was undone by the global positioning system on a Hummer pleaded guilty Tuesday in exchange for a 31-year prison term.
Damon T. Beach, 35, of St. Peters, Mo., will have to serve 100 percent of the sentence, Associate Judge James Hackett said. Charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and armed robbery were dropped in Madison County Circuit Court.
Assistant Madison County State's Attorney Jennifer Vucich told the judge that, had there been a trial, the evidence would have shown that a co-defendant, Qirshton D. Smith of the first block of Manor Court, Alton, drove Beach and co-defendant Johnnie L. Evans, 37, of St. Louis, to the home of the victim, Frank J. Smith, 54, of the 900 block of Brown Street in Alton, on Dec. 31.
Vucich said Qirshton Smith, a woman who is not related to the victim, waited outside in the Hummer while Evans and Beach broke into the house. Evans waited in the doorway while Beach went into the bedroom where the victim was sleeping and shot him to death
Qirshton Smith had told the two men that there was money in the house, and the three decided to rob Frank Smith; however, they got no money out of the crime
, said Lt. David Hayes, chief of detectives for the Alton Police Department.
The victim's nephew, Shannon Smith, who was in the house at the time of the shooting, also would have testified, Vucich said.
Evans and Qirshton Smith also have been charged with first-degree murder and are awaiting trial.
Hayes said police received information that the Hummer was used in the crime, and they used the GPS system to track the vehicle to St. Louis, where officers put it under surveillance.
From that information, they contacted the owner, who had loaned the vehicle to Evans. Qirshton Smith also was linked to the vehicle, and she made a statement to police, authorities said.
Hayes previously said that the case was helped along by cooperation of witnesses in the area of Brown Street and Highland Avenue who spotted the vehicle. That cooperation was a key element in solving the case, he said.
Beach has a criminal history dating to 1992, when he was convicted of second-degree burglary. He was sentenced to five years of probation, but his probation later was revoked, and he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
He also has been convicted of another second-degree burglary, stealing, second-degree robbery, stealing a motor vehicle and non-support. All are Missouri charges.