Updated: 9-15-23 with correction
A former St. Peter man convicted in the 2017 shooting death of Joshua Smith has been resentenced to the maximum 30 years for second degree murder.
Alexander Beccue, 30, appeared in Fayette County Court Monday afternoon for the re-sentencing hearing, along with his defense attorney Edward Deters.
Beccue was arrested in August 2017 after shooting Joshua Smith of Ramsey in the head. Smith was taken to a St. Louis area hospital where he died from his injuries.
Beccue was found guilty of second degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon in 2019. The case was called for a resentencing after a decision made last year by the Fifth District Appellate Court that vacated the second degree murder conviction. During the first sentencing hearing in 2019, Beccue was sentenced with the aggravated factor of causing bodily harm, which the appellate court ruled could not be used in a case that resulted in a death.
.The hearing opened regarding a separate charge of aggravated battery in a public place. On March 9, Beccue was involved in a fight that broke out in the Fayette County Jail.
The first evidence State’s Attorney Brenda Mathis called was Bob Pritcher, an investigator for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Nearly 10 minutes of a video was played that showed Beccue fighting a fellow inmate. Pritcher said in his investigation he discovered that Beccue had said he would “retaliate” if he found out anyone was talking with the police.
Body camera footage from the second witness, Kevin Heiman, a correctional officer with Fayette County Sheriff’s Office,
Aaron Shelby, the inmate who was involved in the fight with Beccue, said it began when Beccue ordered him to pick up a discarded Kool-Aid packet wrapper that was on the floor of the jail.
“One thing led to another, and it got out of hand,” Shelby said.
A couple of loved ones from Josh Smith’s family testified to the difficulties they had experienced since he was killed.
Kathleen Schneider, a family friend of the victim, her son’s best friend was Smith, and she referred to him as the unbiological child who grew up in my home.
“It affects every one of us everyday,” Schneider said. “Every Christmas, every birthday, Every court date. Their hearts just can’t take it. I feel sick. My nights are filled with horrible dreams still after six years.”
Jay Smith spoke about how Josh Smith’s father had trouble coming to court dates, and the mental toll the proceedings have had on his family.
“It brings everything back up,” Jay Smith said. “It takes a lot to be here physically and emotionally to have to relive everything.”
Jay Smith, who also testified at the first sentencing hearing, brought a ruler to the courtroom to discuss the close range from which Josh was shot.
“With less than 12 inches, you assassinated my cousin,” he said.
The defense opened its testimony with Beccue’s mother, Christy Beccue, who discussed Alexander Beccue’s upbringing and how she noticed a change when he started using substances. She said since her son has been incarcerated, he has earned an associate’s degree from Danville Community College and has worked in a high security related position in welding.
“He’s grown up,” she said. “He’s changed. He’s finally starting to mature.”
Beccue’s grandmother Candy Arnold said
“He has done so well off of the drugs,” Arnold said. “He is back to the grandson he was when he was growing up.”
Pamela Rowlee, an aunt, also testified that Beccue has shown remorse.
“He felt bad, very remorseful for what happened,” Rowlee said. “He knew he needed to be there.”
Jeffrey Durbin of Beecher City was in custody at the sheriff’s office the night of the fight at the FCJ. Durbin testified that the fight was over keeping the cellblock tidy and that he had heard Shelby threaten Beccue.
Alexander Beccue said in his testimony that he hates “seeing how he used to be.”
“I was not a good person back then,” he said. “Drugs controlled me back in those days.”
During his allocution statement, Beccue expressed his remorse regarding his actions that night in 2017, apologizing to the Smith family for the pain and loss that he has caused.
“I don’t fault them,” he said. “I did deserve it at one point. I’m sorry. I do regret everything I’ve done.”
Beccue said he plans to take whatever the outcome be from the court and continue to work on improving himself.
“No matter what happens,” he said. “I’m going to keep going down this path.”
In the state’s closing arguments, Mathis reiterated that in a paranoid drug state, Beccue directly caused Joshua Smith.
“This is just one of the consequences of meth in the community.” Mathis said.
She also brought up the incident in the jail as another example of Beccue’s criminal actions.
”Instead of handing it properly and telling a correctional officer, he decided to take matters into his own hands,” she said.
In closing, Deters urged for a lighter sentence, noting the work and effort Beccue has put in to better himself since he was sent to the Department of Corrections.
“Alex Beccue is not the worst of the worst,” Deters said. “You should impose the max on the worst.”
Judge Allan Lollie gave his reasoning for handing down the maximum sentence, commending Beccue for all the work he put in since his incarceration; however, he said that Beccue’s behavior back in March negated the good he had done.
“Judge Sheafor made a mistake but it wasn’t wrong,” Judge Lolie said. “The extended term is necessary for protecting the public.”
Beccue’s sentence will run concurrently on the previous conviction of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, which Beccue was sentenced to 10 years and the appellate court upheld. He was also ordered to serve two years mandatory supervised release and credited for 2,222 days time served.
The newest charge of aggravated battery in a public place was dismissed nolle prosecui by the state.