Details emerge in double murder case

11:36 AM, Feb 26, 2011   |    comments
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Video: Details emerge in double murder case

  • Junior Lee Beebe
  • Family and friends gather in Paw Paw courthouse - Friday afternoon - photo from Steve Patterson

UPDATE 3:30 P.M. -- A Van Buren County District Court judge has bonded the case against Junior Lee Beebe over for trial in Circuit Court.

The judge made the decision Friday afternoon following closing arguments in Beebe's preliminary examination.

Prosecutors cited what they called Beebe's "inconsistent testimony...we know he's a liar."

Beebe's attorney says they were not defending against the shooting of Tonya Howarth, but were fighting the charges linked to Amy Henslee's murder, saying there's "no evidence my client killed Amy."

Members of Howarths family were heard to be saying "he's going to get his now" as they left the court.

UPDATE 3:00PM - Forensics doctor testifies that Henslee was killed by two gunshot wounds fired from close range.  One shot that hit her chest likely caused her death.

Tonya Howarth was killed by two gunshot wounds to the head from a shotgun.  The main shot was from close range, about 3 feet.

UPDATE 2:30PM - Officers who examined the crime scene testified next about finding blood spatters in the trailer and where the bodies were found outside.

The detective who interviewed Beebe testified that Beebe told her after a few minutes of questioning, "I know what happened to Amy."  He then gave her the location of the bodies.

According to the detective, Beebe told her that he had picked up Amy at 9:00 a.m. to go to his trailer to smoke marijuana and  watch his mixed martial arts fight.  Tonya Howarth came in saying "I knew this was going on", grabbed a shotgun and shot Amy. 

Beebe and Tonya then struggled for the gun.  Tonya at one point, pointed the gun at Beebe and said "you're next."  The gun jammed and they continued to wrestle for the gun.  Beebe got the gun and then shot Tonya.

Beebe also told the detective who was testifying that he was having an affair with Amy and had been in a relationship with Tonya for five years.

UPDATE: 1:30pm - Early in Friday's testimony, James Henslee was examined by both the prosecution and defense on the stand. He testified that he spoke to Beebe twice after Amy disappeared. He also said that Amy was not unfaithful to him.

A neighbor also testified that she saw Beebe's truck on the day Amy disappeared and saw a woman get into the passenger side.

Paw Paw, Mich. (WZZM) - The suspect in a double murder in Van Buren County is in court today in Van Buren County.

WZZM 13's Steve Patterson is at the courthouse and will have more on WZZM 13 News at 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m..

Junior Lee Beebe is accused of shooting his cousin's wife, Amy Henslee and his girlfriend, Tonya Howarth.  He's charged with two homicide counts and two firearm charges.

During his last court date, Beebe seemed sluggish and aloof when his lawyer and the prosecutor asked for a 14-day extension to gather evidence.

Amy Henslee, 30, was reported missing late last month by her husband. Van Buren County deputies found Henslee's body three days later in a shallow grave on Beebe's property in Bangor Township. Buried near her was Tonya Howarth.

Deputies say Beebe claims Howarth shot Henslee out of jealousy and he shot Howarth in self-defense. Beebe has a long criminal history including drug charges, disturbing the peace, weapons charges and two DUI's.

He will re-appear in court at 1:00 p.m. Friday for his preliminary exam.

We'll have more details on Beebe's trial tonight on WZZM 13 News.

Reported by Steve Patterson in Paw Paw

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