Executed October 18, 2001 by Lethal Injection in Virginia
W / M / 20 - 26 William Miller David Kaplan Handgun, Stabbing w/knife None
52nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2001
735th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Virginia in 2001
83rd murderer executed in Virginia since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Christopher James Beck
Florence Marie Marks
W / F / 54
W / M / 52
W / M / 34
After being fired, Beck planned to kill William Miller, his former employer. He broke into the house shared by Miller, Florence Marks, and David Kaplan, and waited for them to return home. Marks returned home first and Beck shot her in the basement of the house. Beck stated that he tried to make it look as if she had also been raped, but a medical examiner asserted that she had actually been raped. Later that afternoon, Beck shot Miller and placed his body in Kaplan's apartment. When Kaplan returned home, Beck shot him and stabbed him in the head. Beck stole several guns, cash and two bicycles from the victims, then left the house, waving to a next-door neighbor as he drove off in William's car. Beck gave a complete confession and pled guilty.
W / M / 20 - 26
Handgun, Stabbing w/knife
Virginians for Alternatives to the Death PenaltyChristopher Beck - In August, 1996 Christopher Beck pleaded guilty to three counts of capital murder in the deaths of his cousin, Florence Marie Marks, and her two housemates, William Miller and David Kaplan. An Arlington County judge sentenced Beck to death for each of the three convictions. Beck was 20 years old at the time of the crimes.
The evidence at trial was largely derived from statements Beck made to the police after his arrest. Beck stated that he planned to kill Miller, his former employer. On June 6, 1995 Beck broke into the house shared by the victims and waited for them to return home. Marks returned home first and Beck shot her in the basement of the house. Beck stated that he tried to make it look as if she had also been raped, but a medical examiner asserted that she had actually been raped. Later that afternoon, Beck shot Miller and placed his body in Kaplan's apartment. When Kaplan returned home, Beck shot him and stabbed him in the head.
The trial court accepted Beck's guilty pleas and, after a sentencing hearing, sentenced him to death in each of the three murders. Between the time of the guilty pleas and the sentencing hearing, the trial judge received numerous victim impact letters from the family and friends of the victims.
On appeal, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the convictions and sentences. The court held that victim impact evidence from persons other than family members of the victims is admissible, and that the record showed that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in considering the statements. In 1997, the United States Supreme Court denied Beck's petition for a writ of certiorari.
In May, 1999 Beck was involved in an incident at Sussex I State Prison culminating in his being tied down in four-point restraints. Prison officials allege that Beck was restrained after he became disruptive and verbally abused the staff. Another inmate, however, claims that the staff assaulted Beck in his cell after he argued with a nurse.
Christopher Beck has been on death row since August 15, 1996.
Virginia Governor Gilmore Press Release
Statement by Governor Gilmore Regarding the Execution of Christopher James Beck:
"On June 6, 1995, Christopher James Beck repeatedly shot and killed Florence Marks, William Miller, and David Kaplan in their home. Beck pleaded guilty to the murders and, after reviewing all of the evidence, the judge imposed death sentences for each of these brutal murders. The convictions and death sentences were upheld on multiple appeals and there never has been any question as to his guilt or the brutality of his crimes."
"Upon a thorough review of the Petition for Clemency, the numerous court decisions regarding this case, and the circumstances of this matter, I decline to intervene."
Christopher Beck received the death penalty for the murders of his cousin, Florence Marie Marks, and her 2 housemates, William Miller and David Kaplan. Beck confessed to the police after his arrest and stated that he planned to kill William Miller, his former employer. On June 6, 1995 Beck broke into the house shared by the victims and waited for them to return home. Florence returned home first and Beck shot her twice in the head in the basement of the house. Beck stated that he tried to make it look as if she had also been raped, but a medical examiner asserted that she had actually been raped, after she was shot. Later that afternoon, Beck shot William several times in the head and placed his body in David's apartment. When David returned home, Beck shot him seven times in the head and upper chest and stabbed him in the head after he survived the gunshots to the head and lay dying on the floor.
Beck stole several guns, cash and two bicycles from the victims, then left the house, waving to a next-door neighbor as he drove off in William's car. Beck confessed to the murders but maintained he did not rape Florence. He told police he mistook her for William and shot her when she walked through the door, then staged the rape to make it look like she was killed by a stranger. He was given three death sentences and four life terms, plus 53 years in prison for the rampage.
Choking back sobs and casting hurt, angry eyes towards the defendant, the daughter of one of the three murder victims confronted her mother's killer in a packed Arlington Circuit courtroom. "Do you understand what you did? Do you feel sorry for what you did?" asked Helen Macdonald, daughter of the slain Florence Marie Marks. "Yes, I do," replied Beck. "I think his main goal in life was to kill someone," MacDonald testified. "He's never going to contribute anything but pain." MacDonald's mother, Florence Marks, was the first person killed on June 6, 1995, when Beck broke into a rooming house, police and prosecutors said. Beck intended to lie in wait for the homeowner, William Miller, with whom he had argued, police said. But Florence, 54, came home first. Florence was a distant cousin of Beck's, and had offered him a place to stay off and on while Beck looked for a job. Beck admitted shooting her in the basement, then raping her and finally stabbing her. Beck, of Philadelphia, pled guilty to three counts of capital murder, robbery, burglary and firearms offenses.
Prosecutor Richard Trodden called the slayings "vile and full of torture" and said Beck admitted that he "loved killing." Trodden said after his arrest Beck made morbid jokes about the murders. Florence, a mother of four and a grandmother, worked for Arlington County as a bookkeeper. During the sentencing hearing, Beck sat stone-faced and snatched only a few quick, awkward glances around the tearful courtroom. He briefly closed his eyes when pictures of the victims' bodies passed before him. According to Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Richard E. Trodden's opening statements: "Finally, and most chillingly, the defendant admits `I love killing,'" Trodden said, referring to a note police found in Beck's jail cell.
Friends of the victims said William had hired Beck as a "handyman" and invited him to different social events. They say he wanted to help Beck. William was a statistician at the U.S. Labor Department and David was an editor with Congressional Quarterly. "Bill had an immense capacity to give to other people," his friend Carol Stroebel said during the hearing. "Ours was a friendship that can never be replaced. It's all over. He's been taken."
Defense attorney William McCue argued that Beck was abused as a child and should not get the death penalty. "There is no doubt whether Chris will spend the rest of his life in prison," McCue said. "There is a question if Chris will die at a date designated by his maker or arbitrarily designated by the state." After the sentencing hearing a friend of William Miller attacked the defense attorney's comment. "Bill, Dave or Flo would have loved to have God decide their fate," Kirk Daubenspeck said in an interview. He said Beck deserves the death penalty for society's sake. "Do you want to see that guy at your doorstep?" he asked. "It's not for revenge, it's for protection."
Florence's daughter said she saw little reason to spare Beck: "He's never going to contribute anything to anybody but pain and suffering." As a youth, Beck was charged and convicted of assaulting his teacher and making terroristic threats, and reckless endangerment. Since his incarceration, he has hit and tried to poison other inmates. While in jail, Beck put disinfectant in a mouthwash bottle and gave it to another inmate, a deputy sheriff testified. During the sentencing hearing, a court psychologist said Beck never said he was sorry for the act or expressed other signs of remorse. Last year, Beck said Miller made sexual advances towards him, triggering his wrath. But the court psychologist said Beck later recanted that accusation, saying it wasn't true.
New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Virginia Executes Man for 1995 Triple Murder - JARRATT, Va. (Reuters) - A man who confessed to ambushing and killing his former boss and two other people in a 1995 rampage was put to death by lethal injection in a Virginia prison on Thursday, the second execution in the state this year.
Christopher James Beck, who defense attorneys argued should have been spared the death sentence because of physical, sexual and emotional abuse he suffered as a child, was executed after last-ditch pleas for clemency were rejected. Beck, 26, was pronounced dead at 9:03 p.m. EDT.
Prison spokesman Larry Traylor said Beck made a lengthy final statement before he was injected with lethal chemicals at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Virginia, about 50 miles south of the state capital in Richmond. ``I'm sorry for everything I've done. The burden I carry is greater than any ... . This (execution) is nothing compared to what is on my shoulders,'' Traylor quoted Beck as saying. Beck confessed to laying in wait at the Arlington, Virginia, home of William Miller, 52, a former employer who had fired him from a job. Miller died from several gunshots to the head. Beck also was convicted of raping and murdering Florence Marks, 54, who was shot twice in the head, and killing David Kaplan, 34, who was shot seven times in the head and upper chest. Marks and Kaplan rented rooms from Miller in his home.
According to a court summary of the case, Beck raped Marks after she was shot, and stabbed Kaplan in the head after he survived the gunshots to the head and lay dying on the floor. Beck stole several guns, cash and two bicycles from the victims, then left the house, waving to a next-door neighbor as he drove off in Miller's car. Beck confessed to the murders but maintained he did not rape Marks. He told police he mistook her for Miller and shot her when she walked through the door, then staged the rape to make it look like she was killed by a stranger. He was given three death sentences and four life terms, plus 53 years in prison for the rampage.
Defense attorneys had sought clemency for Beck, saying he had been sexually assaulted as a child by an older boy. When he was 11, his face was cut by a broken bottle during a fight over a toy, leaving him with a scar he carried for life.
Beck, who declined to have the contents of his last meal released, spent his last day visiting with his family, his lawyers and his spiritual adviser, prison officials said. He was the 82nd person executed in Virginia, which trails only Texas in the number of executions since the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) allowed executions to resume in 1976.
European Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
18.10.2001 - Virginia: Christopher Beck Executed
Christopher Beck apologized for killing his cousin and 2 of her housemates before he was executed Thursday night, declaring "the burden I carry is greater than any." Beck, 26, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:03 p.m.
As he shuffled into the execution chamber, Beck appeared wide-eyed and pale, and the prison-issued shirt and denim jeans appeared too large for his small frame. In a final statement, he accepted responsibility for his crimes. "I understand the fullness of my crime," Beck said. "I understand there were more than 3 victims, that there are many that are not even born yet that became victims ... the loss of security, of neighbors and so forth. "I'm sorry for everything I've done."
Beck, who lived in Philadelphia, told police he came to Arlington to kill his former employer, William Miller. He broke into the rooming house shortly before noon on June 5, 1995, and waited in the basement.
Beck's cousin, Florence Marks, 54, came home before Miller, and Beck shot and raped her. He then killed Miller, 52, and David Kaplan, 34, who happened upon the bloody scene. Marks and Kaplan rented rooms from Miller.
All 3 victims were shot in the head.
Gov. Jim Gilmore denied clemency about 1 hour before the scheduled execution. Gilmore's intervention was Beck's last hope for reprieve after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected his appeal in a 7-2 vote. Beck was the 2nd person executed in Virginia this year. Last year, the state executed 8. In July, a 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Beck's claims that he was brain-damaged and suffered from bipolar disorder. The court said tests showed no mental defects.
As a child, Beck was bounced around between family members when he was not with his mother, who abused drugs and alcohol, according to the clemency petition. His father hanged himself when Beck was 6 years old.
Beck becomes the 83rd condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Only Texas, with 252 executions, also carried out since 1982, has more. Beck becomes the 52nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 735th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
Sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin