Ira Beumer trial begins in Evansville - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Ira Beumer trial begins in Evansville


The high profile murder trial of Evansville businessman Ira Beumeris underway.

Beumer is the Vanderburgh County homeowner accused of causing adeadly crash after chasing suspects in a home invasion in 2012. Beumer toldauthorities he thought the suspects had kidnapped his daughter.

Officials say all 12 jurors, including alternates, were seated byabout 12:30 Monday afternoon.

It was a full courtroom on Monday with standing room only and highemotions. 

During opening statements, deputy prosecutor Levi Burkett askedjurors to imagine what was going through Beumer's mind when he left his homeand rammed his truck into the suspects' vehicle.

Burkett told jurors that the suspects were waiting for Beumer whenhe arrived home around 2:00 a.m. He says that the men pistol-whipped Beumermultiple times and threatened to kill him and his family.

Burkett explained to the jury that they would hear evidence fromexpert witnesses that Beumer put the accelerator to the floor and rammed thesuspects' car from behind.

Opening statements by the prosecution took less than ten minutes, but opening statements by the defense took nearly 30 minutes.

Defense attorney David LaMont told jurors the entire incidentincluding the home invasion and the accident happened in the span of about fiveminutes.

LaMont asked jurors to understand the trauma, the fear and theanger that the suspects brought into the Beumer home that night.

He told the jury Beumer was jumped by five men with guns, they orderedhim to enter the security code on the alarm system, and demanded he take themto the safe.

During his opening statements, LaMont played a voicemail recordingleft on the Beumer's home answering machine.

In that message left by Beumer's wife, Maria, she can be heardscreaming and telling Beumer something is wrong. Maria can be heard saying I'mnot coming in there and I'm calling 911.

LaMont said witness testimony will show that the suspectsthreatened to kill Beumer and his wife and that Beumer never meant to killanyone.

Several witnesses testified in the trial, including severalVanderburgh deputies.

The first witness to testify was Deputy Robert Schmitt, a6-year-veteran with the department.

Deputy Schmitt testified that he was dispatched to the holdup inprogress at Beumer's home. He told jurors that the accident scene was about ahalf mile from the Beumer's residence.

When Deputy Schmitt arrived on scene, he testified there were twomen in the back seat. One man, Antuan Jenkins, was killed on impact. The otherman, Jeton Hall, Deputy Schmitt said was barely breathing.

The deputy told jurors both men were trapped in the crushedvehicle. He added both men were wearingblue, blood-soaked sweatshirts and black ski masks.

Deputy Schmitt told the jury there was a shotgun between the twomen in the backseat.

The second witness, Vanderburgh County Detective Nathan Sugarman,testified about his role as the lead detective in the case.

Detective Sugarman told the jury they recovered three guns fromthe suspect's car. He also described to jurors photos he took of the accidentscene.

Further review of the vehicles showed at the time of the accident,the head light switch in the suspect's vehicle was in the off position. Detective Sugarman testified that would indicate that the headlights were not turned on in an area that is completely dark.

The detective told jurors that it is protocol to provide a drugand alcohol screen to drivers involved in car accidents. Beumer's screen came back negative, he was not under the influenceof drugs or alcohol, the detective testified.

The detective also told the jury the driver of the suspect's car,Nalakeio Bennett, was never screen for drugs or alcohol.

The state's third witness, Deputy Matt Corn, testified about hisinteraction on scene.

He told jurors that he and Beumer were friends, and he had previouslyworked off-duty security at Beumer's nightclub.

Deputy Corn says when talking with Beumer shortly after theaccident, Beumer told him "I rammed them. I was trying to kill them."

Judge David Kiely adjourned the trial and cross-examination ofDeputy Corn will begin in the morning. The judge told the defense to be ready to call its witnesses byTuesday afternoon.

It is unclear if the other four suspects already sentenced in thecase will be called to testify.

Nalakeio Bennett, Dezmont Hogan and Jeton Hall are all servingprison sentences, but were brought back to the Vanderburgh County Jail latelast week. Eric Dunn has about four months left on his sentence.

Deputies say one man in the audience was arrested for disorderlyconduct. They say he was using his phone, going in and out, and was beingdisorderly. There are strict rules in the trial to prevent juror distractionsand the judge asked for him to be removed.

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