Curtis Beasley was sentenced to death by the State of Florida for a robbery and murder. According to court documents Curtis Beasley would murder Carolyn Monfort before robbing her. Curtis Beasley would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
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|BEASLEY, CURTIS W
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On August 24, 1995, Jane O’Toole, who had not heard from her mother, Mrs. Monfort, for two days, traveled to her mother’s home in Dundee, Florida, to make sure that she was alright. Several morning newspapers lay in their wrappers outside the house. While searching through the home, Jane found her mother’s body in the blood-stained laundry room. Mrs. Monfort had been severely beaten and was dead.
The last time that Jane spoke to her mother was on August 21, 1995. On that day, Mrs. Monfort, who worked in real estate, had dressed in business clothes in anticipation of her Monday morning meeting. The defendant, Curtis Beasley (“Beasley”), was there, dressed for work. Mrs. Monfort knew Beasley through her daughter’s former husband, with whom Beasley had attended high school. Beasley was staying at Mrs. Monfort’s house for a few days, while doing some pressure washing and painting at the Lake Marie Apartments (the “apartments”). The apartments were owned by Mrs. Monfort’s son-in-law, Neal O’Toole (Jane’s husband), and managed by Mrs. Monfort.
Before moving into the Monfort home, Beasley had been living at Steve Benson’s house. Approximately one or two months earlier, Beasley had borrowed $600 from Dale Robinson, a friend with whom he had previously resided, to place his old van back into operation to commute to and from the painting job. At this time, however, Beasley had no transportation of his own. For this reason, he had recently been staying as a guest in the Monfort home, so that Mrs. Monfort could drive Beasley to and from work at the apartments. Dale Robinson had the impression that Beasley spent the night at Mrs. Monfort’s house and remained at Benson’s home during the day. In fact, on Sunday, August 20, Officer Pierson (a witness at trial) saw Beasley at Steve Benson’s house, wearing a checkered “western-style” shirt during the day. However, Beasley apparently spent the night of the 20th at the Monfort home, because he was there at 8 a.m. the next morning, when the housekeeper, Mrs. Ferguson, came to clean the house. While cleaning that day, the housekeeper saw a checkered shirt lying on a wicker chest at the foot of the bed in the guest bedroom, which Beasley was using.
Later on the 21st, Jane called her mother and arranged for Beasley to help Jane move some of her grandmother’s furniture. Mrs. Monfort had transported Beasley to work at the apartments at about 8:20 a.m. that day, and he returned to the Monfort home sometime in the late morning, after the housekeeper had left for the day. Jane picked Beasley up before noon (he was by himself at the Monfort home at that time), and he helped her move the furniture. In the process of this furniture move, Beasley told Jane that he would be in Alabama the following week to take care of an inheritance. He also asked Jane for some money. She replied that she had only a few dollars with her, but that her husband would pay him (for pressure washing the apartments) later. After the work had been completed, Jane drove Beasley back to the Monfort home around noon. Again, no one else was at home at that time.
The evidence demonstrated that, until 7:01 p.m. on the evening of August 21, phone calls were being made from the Monfort residence. These phone calls, including some to the United Kingdom, were made to people Beasley knew, but Mrs. Monfort did not know. A newspaper lying on the coffee table in Mrs. Monfort’s living room had one of those telephone numbers written on it in Beasley’s handwriting.
The evidence established that, after Mrs. Monfort had transported Beasley to the apartments on the 21st, she went to her business meeting at 9 a.m. Later that day, she met with Mr. Rosario, a prospective tenant at the apartments, at 2 p.m. At 5 p.m., she again met with Mr. Rosario at the apartments. He gave her a deposit (first and last month’s rent) in the form of eight $100 bills, and another $100 for a bedroom set which Mrs. Monfort sold to him. She wrote a receipt for the money, a copy of which appeared in the receipt book later found in her car. She left the apartments sometime between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. That was the last time Mrs. Monfort was seen until the discovery of her body on August 24.
It was Mrs. Monfort’s habit, between 6 and 8 p.m. on week days, to prepare and consume one or two drinks before dinner. These would always contain vodka and tonic, with either a lime twist or a lemon twist. When Mrs. Monfort’s body was discovered, a drinking glass with a lime twist was found at her feet. Two empty tonic water bottles were in the kitchen garbage can, which the housekeeper had emptied earlier in the day. There were no other signs of food preparation in the house.
Sometime between 8:30 and 10 p.m. that night, Beasley drove Mrs. Monfort’s car to Haines City to visit Dale Robinson. At that time, Beasley was driving a light-colored car (either white or blue), which he told Robinson belonged to a lady friend Beasley was working for, and at whose house he had stayed a few nights. During the visit, Beasley showed Robinson a $100 bill, offering it in partial payment of his debt. After Robinson suggested to Beasley that the money should be used to purchase some crack cocaine for them to smoke, Beasley left Robinson’s house and did not return.
The next day, Beasley arrived at a bus station in Miami. He no longer had Mrs. Monfort’s car with him,1 and, at this point, he called the Malcolms, whom he had not contacted in over three and a half years. Although Beasley was known to Mrs. Malcolm to be a “snappy” dresser, when he arrived in Miami, he was wearing clothes that he said were “new” which looked odd together-a pair of dress shoes, a pair of jeans with no belt, and a brightly colored t-shirt. Beasley claimed to have lost his wallet, his traveler’s checks, and all of his clothes on the bus. He told Mrs. Malcolm that he was vacationing in Miami after having visited unidentified friends in Fort Myers. He stayed with Mrs. Malcolm for a few days, then was permitted to stay at the house of Mr. Malcolm’s mother (Mrs. Bennis) while she was away for two weeks. During this time, phone calls began to appear on Mrs. Bennis’s bill to some of the same numbers (including calls to the United Kingdom) that had appeared on Mrs. Monfort’s bill on August 21. The phone numbers belonged to persons known to Beasley but not to Mrs. Bennis.
During this period of time, Mrs. Monfort’s body was discovered. She had been bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument. Near her body was a bloody hammer head, wrapped in two dish towels. The head of the hammer protruded through the fabric of one towel. The hammer head had been broken off of its handle, which also lay near the body. Mrs. Monfort had some hairs 2 in her right hand. There was blood on the floor, blood splattered everywhere in the laundry room, blood splattered in the dining room near the laundry room door, and some apparent blood smeared on the laundry room door frame. An earring was found in the dining room, lying next to a table leg. Mrs. Monfort’s purse was near her feet, and she was dressed in the same business clothes she had worn to work on the morning of August 21.
The medical examiner who conducted Mrs. Monfort’s autopsy testified as to the injuries observed upon examination. Mrs. Monfort had been struck with a blunt object, sustaining injuries on her face and head and typical defensive injuries to the backs of both hands (bruises and abrasions), on the back of the upper arms, and on the back of the left forearm (bruises). The left half of Mrs. Monfort’s face was severely injured. There was a large laceration (10 inches by 3/434 inch) extending from almost the top of her head down to her mouth. There was a large bruise on the left half of her face, and multiple lacerations in front of her left ear, on her left cheek, and in the area behind her left ear. There were bruises on both eyes and over her right cheek, and lacerations on the right half of her forehead. All of these injuries were inflicted antemortem. There was also a fracture of her cheekbone (“zygoma”), and a fracture of her left upper jaw (left “maxilla”). These were open fractures, well seen through the laceration on her face.
The lacerations on her face and head ranged in size from 3/434 by 1/414 inch up to 10 inches by 3/434 inch. There were about nine lacerations on the left side of her head and face; two more lacerations of the right aspect of her forehead; four lacerations on the back of her head, and two others behind her left ear. This made a total of fifteen to seventeen lacerations on (or blows to) Mrs. Monfort’s face and head, not including those consistent with being defensive lacerations.
There was also a depressed fracture of the left temporal (skull) bone having the shape of a figure eight; each half of the shape was 1 3/434 inches in diameter, and consistent with being imposed with the round part of a hammer. Mrs. Monfort’s brain was lacerated from small fragment formation in the fracture area. There were subdural subarachnoid hemorrhages under the membrane that covered the brain (contusion hemorrhages into the superficial part of the brain, or the cortex). The cause of death, in the medical examiner’s opinion, was blunt trauma to the head; while a hammer could have caused the injuries, the impact pattern did not suggest whether the head or the claw end had been used.
After Mrs. Monfort’s body was discovered, an investigation of the crime scene was conducted. The only rooms which appeared to have been disturbed were the dining room, the utility (or laundry) room, and the garage. The investigators testified that they did not look under the beds in either the master bedroom or the guest room. All of the beds were made, and the master bed had folded linens on it, suggesting that no one had slept in the house after the housekeeper had cleaned. Photographs of the interior of the home demonstrated that, other than the three disturbed areas, the remainder of the home appeared to be in impeccable order. The garage door was closed, and Mrs. Monfort’s car was missing. The $100 bills Rosario had given to Mrs. Monfort were gone.
Beasley had also disappeared from the premises, but he had left behind a box of his business cards and a box of Doral cigarettes in the guest bedroom. He also left a shaving kit and a can of shaving cream on the back of the toilet fixture in the guest bathroom.
While the crime scene was being investigated, the home was secured, and members of Mrs. Monfort’s family were not permitted to enter the house. The family members left the house at the end of the day, after the crime scene was released, but before the investigation team had completed work. Before they left, the lead detective (Detective Cash) asked family members to return to the house the next day, to attempt to identify any missing valuables. They agreed to call Detective Cash after they arrived, so that she could join them at the home.
The next day, Neal O’Toole, Bud Stalnaker (Mrs. Monfort’s son) and Bud’s wife (Sherry) went to the Monfort home. While looking for missing items of personal jewelry or other valuables, they found a bank bag containing money under the mattress in the master bedroom, but nothing under the bed. In the guest bedroom, Bud also looked between the mattress and the box springs, but found nothing. When he lowered himself to the floor to look under the bed, however, he observed a pair of shoes placed neatly together, with a wadded-up shirt next to the shoes.3
Detective Cash had already been contacted, and no one touched either the shoes or the shirt until she arrived at the Monfort home and was advised of the discovery made by Bud. Detective Cash and her partner went immediately into the guest room, where she reached under the bed and retrieved the shirt. She obtained a bag from her car, and when she unfolded the shirt on the bag, she discovered apparent blood on the shirt. Detective Cash then placed the shirt in the bag, and the bag in the trunk of her car.
Subsequent DNA testing on the blood taken from the shirt showed that all parameters tested were consistent (none were inconsistent) with Mrs. Monfort’s blood. The testing excluded Beasley as a donor of the blood. The housekeeper identified a picture of the shirt as being the same pattern (but a little lighter) as the shirt which she had seen in the guest bedroom where other items belonging to Beasley were located on the morning of August 21. Officer Pierson identified the shirt as being the same shirt Beasley had worn when he saw him at Benson’s house on August 20.
A search for Beasley was initiated from central Florida. During this time, Beasley continued to stay at Mrs. Bennis’s house in Miami until he became involved in a physical altercation with Mr. Malcolm. After that, Malcolm’s brother transported Beasley to a bus station in Fort Lauderdale. Beasley was eventually found in Alabama, living in a motel with Jeff Ellis. Beasley had grown a beard, and was working at Herndon Electric Company under the false identity of “William Benson.” The signature of “William Benson” on certain electric company employment application papers was positively identified by a handwriting expert as Beasley’s. When Beasley was discovered, he identified himself as Curtis Wilkie Beasley, and offered no resistance. He was placed under arrest by Officer Jones, orally advised of his Miranda rights, and transported to the Dale County, Alabama, jail. While taking a cigarette break with Officer Jones at the jail, Beasley told Jones that he knew he was in trouble because, when he had gone back to the house, it was surrounded by FBI agents. Beasley said that after he saw the FBI agents he left.
Beasley was charged with first-degree murder, robbery, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. The jury convicted Beasley of all three charges. Following the penalty phase of the trial, the jury recommended death by a vote of ten to two. The trial court followed the jury’s recommendation, sentencing Beasley to death for the homicide, and to concurrent terms of fifteen years and five years of imprisonment, respectively, for the robbery and grand theft convictions.