The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 12, 2013

Man who choked his pregnant girlfriend to death then buried her pleads guilty to manslaughter


A western Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, acknowledging he killed his ex-girlfriend with a chokehold during an argument.

Twenty-four-year-old Jonathan Beal of Meyersdale also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence for burying the body of 19-year-old Justine Jackson near the Great Allegheny Passage hiking and biking trail in Meyersdale.

Her remains were found Nov. 11, nearly two months after the date Beal acknowledged killing her, Sept. 14, 2012.

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

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

He'll be sentenced Nov. 26.


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