After slightly more than two hours of deliberation, a Randolph County jury returned a verdict of first-degree murder against Tamara Jill Bean in the shooting death of her longtime boyfriend, Randy Wayne Charles, earlier today in Asheboro.
Testimony in the trial wrapped up Thursday morning in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Vance Bradford Long. Bean’s defense team, led by attorney David Botchin, claimed that she acted in self-defense in the September 2008 shooting of Charles. Randolph County Assistant District Attorney Kingsley Dozier argued that Bean committed first-degree murder, shooting Charles three times with her .38 caliber pistol and then staging the crime scene to make it appear she acted in self-defense.
On Wednesday, Bean, 53, took the stand. Bean said she met Charles at the age of 26 and they lived together for more than 20 years. Bean admitted that at the time she met Charles, she was addicted to heroin, Dilaudid, and Xanax. Bean claimed that Charles was her drug supplier in the early years of their relationship, and that Charles struggled with his own addictions to alcohol and marijuana.
Bean acknowledged her criminal record. Bean was charged with larceny and breaking and entering in 1999 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon in 2003. Bean described her relationship with Charles as volatile. She said their frequent arguments often escalated to physical confrontations. Bean also stated that she and Charles had made death threats against one another in the past.
On the night of the crime, Bean said she and Charles had been arguing about her refusal to have sex with him. At one point, Charles took out his Remington 870 Express 20-gauge shotgun, Bean said.
“He said, ‘I’m going to teach you to stop having emotion swings and wigging out,’” Bean said.
“I said, ‘Well, if you are, go ahead and pull the trigger,’” Bean said. “I was tired of fighting.”
Bean said Charles was poking her in the stomach with the barrel of the shotgun before the deadly confrontation. Bean said the last thing she remembers is Charles reaching for shotgun shells to load his rifle and could only remember “small pieces” of what happened after that.
“The next thing I remember is seeing him on the living room floor,” Bean said.
Bean allegedly fired three shots from her .38 caliber handgun and killed Charles during their confrontation.
“Did you plant the shotgun and shotgun shells on the living room floor?” Botchin asked.
“No, sir,” Bean replied.
On cross-examination, Dozier asked Bean why she wasn’t afraid when she saw Charles holding the shotgun.
“I was afraid,” Bean replied.
“Then why would you ask to be shot?” Dozier asked.
Bean said she was tired of fighting with Charles and she was scared despite her defiant attitude. Dozier pointed out inconsistencies between Bean’s prior statements to investigators and healthcare providers and her court testimony, asking Bean if she knew why she didn’t tell anyone that Charles had poked her with the shotgun on the night of the killing. Bean said she thought she had shared that detail with investigators.
Dozier asked Bean if she would demonstrate to the jury what happened with the shotgun during her confrontation with Charles.
“I’d rather not,” Bean replied.
Dozier asked Bean if she recalled contacting her daughter to come pick her up on the night of the killing or speaking to a 911 operator. Bean said she could not remember much of what happened on the night in question, including shooting Charles three times.
On redirect, Botchin asked Bean if she could explain why she could not remember many of the details of the night of Sept. 30, 2008.
“I was in shock,” Bean replied. “I would never have expected something like that to happen.”
During closing arguments, Dozier poked holes in Bean’s story. He said her inability to remember the shooting was a case of selective memory, not fragmented memory. Dozier said Bean could have easily escaped the mobile home when she saw Charles holding the shotgun, but she chose to stay and fight. Dozier said the reason the SBI Laboratory couldn’t find any fingerprints or DNA on either the Remington 870 Express 20-gauge shotgun found 18 inches from Charles’s body or Bean’s .38 caliber pistol was because Bean wiped them down before the sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene. Dozier argued that Bean had malice in her heart and made good on her countless threats to kill Charles if he ever left her.
In his summation, Botchin attacked the elements of the state’s case, particularly the claim that Bean staged the crime scene.
“They have no physical evidence to support their case,” Botchin said. “Do you know how much work it would take to stage a crime scene?”
Botchin played the 911 call placed by Bean on the night of the shooting for the jury. A hysterical Bean could be heard shouting, “He’s dead!”
Dozier characterized Bean’s behavior on the night of the shooting as a performance, saying she cried crocodile tears, and the defense team’s claim of a conspiracy by law enforcement to convict Bean on a first-degree murder charge simply didn’t hold water.