The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 8, 2013

Murder suspect to stand trial

Patrick Buchnowski
pbuchnowski@tribdem.com

SOMERSET — Jonathon William Beal told friends he killed Justine Marie Jackson along a bike trail in southern Somerset County, witnesses testified on Friday.

The testimony came during a preliminary hearing at the county courthouse.

Beal, 24, of Scratch Hill Road, is accused of killing 19-year-old Jackson and dumping her body in a shallow grave on the Greater Allegheny Passage hiking trail in Larimer Township.

She had been strangled, authorities said.

Beal was ordered to stand trial following a two-hour hearing before District Judge Douglas Bell of Meyersdale.

Jackson’s body was found on Nov. 11 by a man walking the trail. She was last seen with Beal on Sept. 14.

District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser questioned two witnesses who said they heard Beal confess to killing his one-time girlfriend.

Jennifer Fuller, 22, of Meyersdale, said Beal approached her one day when she was walking near the monument in the borough.

“He seemed upset,” Fuller testified. “He said ‘I killed her.’ ”

She said Beal told her he knocked Jackson to the ground and “kicked her in the head several times.”

Fuller said she didn’t believe him because Beal was known as a storyteller.

“You could never believe anything he said,” she said.

Meyersdale resident Abigail Krammer, 16, described Jackson as being like a sister. Krammer said she was hanging out with friends one day at Sheetz when Beal approached.

Krammer said at one point Beal threw up his hands and said: “That’s right, I killed the bitch.”

When he was questioned by authorities, Beal said he broke up with Jackson because she refused to give up drugs, Trooper Ted Goins testified.

Then Beal told investigators that an unknown male had contacted him to say that Jackson had been involved in a drug bust in Baltimore, Goins said.

But authorities there had no record of Jackson, he said.

Jackson, who was originally from Allegany County, Md., was living with a relative in Meyersdale at the time she went missing.

U.S. marshals found Beal at a home in Louisiana on Nov. 14.

Beal is charged with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and aggravated assault.

He is being held without bond in the Somerset County Jail.

Beal is being represented by Steven Miller and William Seger of the Public Defenders Office.

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