MURPHYSBORO — Exactly two years after Carbondale musician Tim Beaty was killed in his home due to a nearby shooting, a Missouri man was found guilty on Tuesday of his murder.
After a seven-day trial, Travis Tyler, 23, of Cape Girardeau, was found guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm.
After hearing closing arguments from Jackson County assistant state’s attorney Casey Bloodworth and defense attorney T.J. Hunsaker from the Rosenblum, Schwarz and Fry Law Firm of St. Louis, the jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before reaching its verdict.
The reading of the guilty verdict on the first-degree murder charge was met with cries of relief from the Beaty family, along with cries of despair from the Tyler family.
Members of the Tyler family and accompanying parties were escorted out of the Jackson County Courthouse due to loud cries and screams directed toward Jackson County correctional officers.
After the family was escorted out, members of the jury requested officers walk with them to their cars.
Beaty’s father, Don Beaty, said nobody really wins in a case like this.
“I have a lot of compassion for the other family,” he said. “It hurts to see them like that. There’s no winners.”
He said he does feel like justice for his son was served Tuesday.
“I feel it was necessary for society and to prevent other such acts, hopefully,” Don Beaty said. “But there’s nothing happy about this.”
Bloodworth reiterated part of Don Beaty’s sentiment.
“There are no winners,” he said. “Needless to say, we are pleased with the result."
He also thanked the jurors for all their hard work through the six days they heard testimony.
“It was a difficult one for them to consider,” he said. “It was a tough case for everybody involved.”
The incident occurred after a fight broke out at a house party at 402 W. Walnut St. in Carbondale. Shots were fired outside the home during a dispute. Beaty, 41, was killed by a stray bullet while inside his home at 334 W. Walnut St. According to testimony during the trial, he pulled a group of girls inside his home to attempt to escape the gunfire before he was shot.
That bullet was proven to be fired by Tyler’s Glock 23 .40-caliber firearm.
Tim Beaty was a well-known drummer in the Carbondale music scene, who played in several rock and punk bands.
Nehemiah Greenlee, 26, suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital that night.
A sentencing hearing for Tyler has been set for 9 a.m. Friday, June 1.
Tyler says he feared for his life
Before the verdict was read Tuesday, Tyler took the witness stand to tell his story about the March 27, 2016 incident.
He said the night was horrible and that he was fearful for his life.
“I had been fired upon that night and I almost lost my life,” he said in open court.
Tyler said he came to Carbondale with his cousin and a friend of his cousin in a red Dodge Charger on March 26, 2016. They went to Hangar 9, where he recognized about 15 people from Southeast Missouri State University, where Tyler was a student.
He said a man named Will Donegan got into a verbal altercation with another person at Hangar 9, but the incident did not turn physical. In fact, Tyler said he got between the two parties and said they weren’t in Carbondale to fight.
His group later attended an after-party at 402 W. Walnut St. A physical fight happened at the after-party.
Tyler said shots were fired into the floor during that fight, and he crawled into a nearby bedroom. After about 30 seconds, he said he went to leave out of the front door. While the door was open, he said two individuals, who he found out during trial were Greenlee and Anthony Jones, stepped in front of him and said he couldn’t leave through the front.
Tyler said he told the two men to “get the f--- out of my way. I have to get the hell out of this house.”
He said he was eventually able to squeeze through them, bumping Jones with his shoulder. Tyler said he was then pushed in the back by Greenlee.
He said Greenlee said to him, “You don’t have to push him like that.”
Tyler responded with “What?” He said Greenlee then pulled up his shirt, showing he had a weapon, and repeated himself.
Tyler said that is when he identified the firearm as a revolver and started to walk away with his hands up. He said when he made it to Beveridge Street, he heard Greenlee say “talk s--- now.” Tyler said Greenlee then raised his firearm and fired twice.
Tyler said he heard the bullets fly past his face, and then he returned fire until he thought his gun was out of ammo. He said he thought he was going to die from those shots.
Contradicting previous testimony by Greenlee, Tyler said he never went to his vehicle or popped this trunk to retrieve his weapon.
After the shooting stopped, Tyler said he got into this vehicle and drove back to Cape Girardeau with the same trio with whom he came to Carbondale. The three men made a stop at White Castle, and then Tyler went to his dorm room.
On cross-examination by Bloodworth, Tyler was asked about the fact that he could have chosen to leave his gun at home or in the car before driving to Carbondale and entering that party. Tyler said he could have, but chose not to.
Bloodworth also asked Tyler several times if he could have called 911, stopped at any police department to say he had been shot at, or engaged any of the several police officers on scene during the night in question.
Tyler said he could have done all those things, but didn’t. He said he didn’t know the procedure when talking to law enforcement because he had never had an encounter with law enforcement before that night. He said when he learned of Beaty’s death, he assembled a legal team, which also included T.J. Matthes of the Rosenblum, Schwarz and Fry Law Firm of St. Louis.
State's closing: 'That's murder'
“Two years ago, to the date, Carbondale was met with a barrage of gunfire from this defendant,” Bloodworth said during his closing argument, pointing at Tyler.
He told the jury this was not an intentional murder case, but through the actions of firing a gun into that house, he killed Tim Beaty.
“That’s murder,” he said.
He reminded the jury that bullets covered Beveridge Street that night. There were eight .40-caliber bullets, seven 9mm bullets and one .40-caliber live round. He also told the jury there were crowds of people running around the area while the shots were being fired.
“Every one of those shots came from Beveridge street,” Bloodworth said. “Those actions — and none other — killed Tim Beaty that night.”
He went on to say Tyler had no legal justification to discharge his firearm that night because there weren’t any shots fired at him.
“Nobody other than the defendant identified Greenlee as having or firing a gun,” Bloodworth said.
Defense's closing: 'They can't keep their story straight'
Hunsaker pointed to inconsistent testimony by eyewitnesses and detectives during the trial. He said the stories Greenlee, Jones and another witness, Joshua Bell, gave the detectives don't match the stories they told in court.
“They can’t keep their story straight,” Hunsaker said. “Because they are making some of it up.”
Hunsaker noted that Bell said at one point Greenlee was shot in the house and he was right next to him. A few days later, the story changed, and Bell said Greenlee was shot outside of the house.
Hunsaker continued to Jones’ story, saying he struggled to explain events that happened at the front door of 402 W. Walnut, including how many people were trying to get out of the door.
“The reason he can’t keep it straight is because he is making it up,” he said.
Jones testified earlier in the trial that he and Greenlee jumped in front of each other when Tyler showed his gun to them. They continued to jump in front of each other until they were in front of 334 W. Walnut St.
Hunsaker said Carbondale Detective Aaron Baril contradicted that theory, saying that happened because Jones needed an explanation as to why they were in front of 334 W. Walnut St.
Hunsaker also said the police failed to investigate as thoroughly as they could have, saying they didn’t ask enough questions about a bullet found by the St. Francis Xavier Church at 303 S. Poplar St., which is directly across the street from 402 W. Walnut. He said the police found the bullet after they had already constructed the narrative about what happened.
“They stuck to the narrative in a press release and case filings and ran with it,” he said.
Hunsaker said Tyler made a poor decision by leaving that night without talking to law enforcement, but he was 21 years old, in an unfamiliar city and scared. He said once he found out a man was killed, it left a lasting effect on him and it was something he knew he would have to live with for the rest of his life.
'Tim's family has to live with this for the rest of their days'
“Tim’s family has to live with this for the rest of their days,” Bloodworth said in a rebuttal to Hunsaker’s closing arguments. “Because he (Tyler) decided to play tough guy. Because he decided to shoot up Carbondale.”
He said there is no evidence there was ever another shooter, meaning Tyler acted as the aggressor.
“There were no shots before this defendant’s barrage of gunfire on Carbondale,” Bloodworth said.