Cumberland Times-News

November 26, 2013

Meyersdale man to serve up to 24 years for voluntary manslaughter

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— SOMERSET, Pa. — A 24-year-old Meyersdale man will serve 10 to 24 years in prison in connection with the death of 19-year-old Justine Marie Jackson in September 2012.

Jonathan William Beal received the sentence from President Judge John Cascio after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Beal pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, acknowledging that he killed his ex-girlfriend with a chokehold during an argument.

The victim’s body was found Nov. 11, 2012, near the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail in Meyersdale — nearly two months after the date of Sept. 14 that Beal acknowledged killing her.

Jackson was a former resident of Ellerslie who attended Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg before graduating from the Allegany County Center for Career and Technical Education.

Somerset County public defender Steve Miller said previously that Beal didn’t mean to kill Jackson when they argued about whether to reconcile. Miller said Beal didn’t want to resume their relationship.

District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said prosecutors agreed to the lesser charge because they weren’t sure they could prove Beal intended to kill.

Beal was initially charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse following investigation by Pennsylvania State Police.

Beal was arrested Nov. 14 of last year in Louisiana by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office when he was found hiding

in a residence

of a female friend.

The district attorney said Tuesday afternoon, “I’m happy that the victim’s family now has closure.”

She also commended Pennsylvania State Police in its handling of the investigation that resulted in the arrest and conviction.

Following the sentencing, Beal was placed in the Somerset County Detention Center to await transfer into the custody of state prison personnel.