A Newnan man is heading to prison after being convicted of attempted murder.
On Wednesday afternoon, Mario Chaquez Beeks was found guilty of attempted murder, aggravated assault, battery and possession of firearm during commission of felony following a 2016 shooting.
Beeks, 20, was sentenced to 35 years to serve 20 by Judge Emory Palmer during a bench trial held in Coweta County Superior Court.
The shooting incident occurred on October 31, 2016 when Beeks was attending a house party on Boone Drive. Just before 4 a.m., police received a call regarding a gunshot wound to the head. After a verbal argument over money, witnesses told police Beeks allegedly pulled out a handgun and shot the victim in the face.
The victim suffered fractures and lacerations in his forehead, but managed to survive the attack. The bullet traveled through several walls of the house, and police recovered a shell casing at the scene, although the bullet and gun were never located, according to Assistant District Attorney Herb Cranford Jr.
While Beeks was initially charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, Cranford was able to successfully prove malice in prosecuting the case as attempted murder.
“There was an argument over money, a gun was pulled and pointed directly at the victim’s head,” Cranford said. “It’s more than reasonable to infer he knew the consequences would be the murder of the victim.”
In interviews with the police, Beeks allegedly attempted to spend the majority of the time talking about a dice game he was playing that evening and needed to be prompted by detectives to discuss the shooting, according to Cranford.
Cranford also displayed evidence taken from Beeks’ personal Facebook page that allegedly showed an attempt to sell a firearm for $400 along with indications of possible gang connections.
However, Ed Lavance Adams, defense attorney for Beeks, noted one witness who appeared on the stand during the trial could not correctly identify the shooter and never saw a gun.
“No gun was ever found, and a shell casing was found without any prints,” Adams said. “There have been numerous shootings at the house in the past.”
In his remarks to the court, Beeks refuted the possibility of gang affiliation, and indicated that in a town the size of Newnan, crossing paths with a variety of people – both good and bad – is inevitable.
“I hang around Bloods and Crips, but that doesn’t make me a part of them,” Beeks said. “This is Newnan, and I’m around everyone. I don’t pick sides. I’m not a criminal. I have a 1-year-old and want to get back home as fast as I can.”
However, Judge Palmer found Beeks guilty on all counts, citing Beeks’ statement to the police and his subsequent attempt to flee from officers when later being served a warrant.
“This is a serious offense and it’s a miracle it wasn’t murder,” Palmer said. “Although it’s a bit of a mitigating factor that he does not have a prior record.”
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely