A Chattanooga man convicted and sentenced to serve life without parole in the 1993 murder of his former girlfriend appeared in court Tuesday morning to ask the court to review evidence in his case in the hopes it would lessen his sentence.
Stephen LaJuan Beasley, 57, who represented himself with the assistance of Chattanooga attorney John Weiss, told Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don W. Poole that photos he had always seen of the crime scene had been in black-and-white and he hadn't been able to make out important details in them. When he was recently provided with color photos, he was able to make some important discoveries, he said.
"For 22 years I've been provided black-and-white photos," Beasley said.
He told the court he previously had not been able to make out blood spatter patterns on the underside of a telephone handset and a jacket on the back of a chair. Those are details he said proved that the crime didn't occur in the way it was presented in his trial.
According to investigators, Beasley and Ugandra Shibley struggled before her death. A photo submitted during the trial showed a telephone off the hook with blood spatter on the underside of the handset.
Beasley also said police had failed to note that Shibley's body was in full rigor mortis when they arrived on the crime scene, and he argued that fact could have made a difference in the 1994 trial that resulted in him being found guilty of her killing.
In 2019, Beasley first began raising the issue of the evidence, saying it could have influenced the outcome of the trial, while Executive Assistant District Attorney Cameron Williams argued the evidence was not new and that jurors reached their verdict using ample evidence that proved Beasley deliberately murdered Shibley.
Poole said once he reaches a decision on Beasley's request for a lesser sentence he will submit it in writing to the prosecution, Beasley and Weiss.