Murder suspect: ‘They were just shooting at me and I shot back’

Published 3:02 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2021

NATCHEZ — An Adams County man is on trial for two counts of first degree murder this week in Adams County Sixth District Circuit Court with Judge Lillie B. Sanders presiding.

An audience of approximately 20 people in addition to courtroom personnel and the jury listened to testimony in the trial of Jonathan Beach, 38, on Wednesday after jury selection took place on Tuesday.

Beach faces two first-degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of Adams County volunteer firefighters Troy Whittington, 31, and Jason Haley, 34, on March 1, 2019.

The volunteer firefighters and their children where together at Jonathan Beach’s wife Ashley Beach’s house at 15 Quasar Drive after they participated in the Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras Parade.

By noon Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney of Greenville, John Herzog, called five people to the stand, including three Adams County Sheriff’s deputies and a present and former Adams County E911 dispatcher, who all responded to the incident in 2019.

Herzog also showed the jury footage from Deputy Ricco Carter’s body camera after the shooting took place.

In the footage, Carter talks with Jonathan Beach, who remains on scene and answers the deputies’ questions about what happened.

Jonathan Beach tells Carter he had been talking to his wife earlier that day and the shooting took place at her house at 15 Quasar Drive, located near Skates Auto Glass and Mini Storage on U.S. 61, where he and the deputy were talking.

Beach said they had made plans for him to pick up his son for his birthday but his wife stopped responding after approximately 9 p.m.

When he came to the house to talk to her, Beach said guns were drawn.

“I just came over here to talk to my wife … They were shooting at me and I shot back at them,” he said. “… I heard one of them cock the gun and that was the end of it.”

Both Whittington and Haley received fatal wounds to the chest area and Beach was shot in his hand and leg.

Dispatchers said earlier that day, Ashley Beach called about a deer camera she believed Beach hid on the front porch of the house. Deputy Ashley Bennett, who knew Ashley Beach from her work as a volunteer firefighter, said Ashley Beach told him, “I’m scared,” while talking about her husband.

When deputies asked Jonathan Beach about the camera after the shooting occurred, he said Ashley Beach complained about someone messing around the front porch and he put it there two or three days before.

“If it bothered her, why didn’t she say anything?” Jonathan Beach said to the deputies.

Former E911 Dispatcher Tiffany Mosby said she was on the phone with Haley’s wife, Billie Haley, about a disturbance at the house. Haley told her Jonathan Beach was banging on the front door and then Mosby said she could hear shooting in the background.

“(Billie Haley) was trying to protect the wife and the children and they were barricaded in a room,” Mosby said. “As we were talking, I heard gunfire … I heard at least three more shots after that. … (Billie Haley) said she could hear gurgling on the other side of the door.”

Jonathan Beach’s attorney Zach Jex said in his opening statement that the incident was the result of an “ambush” planned by Ashley Beach.

Jex said Ashley Beach “lured” Jonathan to the residence by not talking to him and attempted to hide an alleged affair she had with Whittington.

Beach has remained in the Adams County Jail on a $2 million bond since the incident.

Court resumed at 2 p.m. Wednesday.