Jury convicts Michigan man in shotgun slayings

PAW PAW, Mich. (AP) -- A southwestern Michigan man was convicted Tuesday in the shotgun slayings of his girlfriend and his cousin's wife, despite his story to police that one of the women shot the other in a jealous rage.

Junior Lee Beebe, 34, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Tonya Howarth, 36, and second-degree murder in the slaying of Amy Henslee, 30, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. A Van Buren County Circuit Court jury delivered the verdict after about five hours of deliberations that began last Friday.

"Where there's God, there's a way, and he came through today," Henslee's husband, James, said outside the courthouse in Paw Paw after the conviction. "It's the verdict I've been waiting for."

The women's bodies were found Jan. 27 in a shallow grave near Beebe's trailer in Van Buren County, about 60 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. Both women were shot twice.

Beebe told authorities that Howarth, his girlfriend, stormed into his trailer Jan. 24 and saw him sitting on a bed with Amy Henslee, with whom he was having an affair.

Beebe said Howarth fatally shot Henslee, and that Howarth was shot as he fought with her after the gun jammed, a Michigan State Police investigator testified during the trial. Prosecutors allege that Beebe killed both women. Beebe did not testify during the trial.

"I'm very disappointed in the verdict. It doesn't hold up to logic," Beebe's attorney David Hunt told The Associated Press. "I'm sure Mr. Beebe will be appealing."

Published: Thu, Aug 11, 2011