James Walker and Rex Beckworth were sentenced to death and remains on Alabama Death Row for the murder of Bessie Lee Thweatt. According to court documents James Walker and Rex Beckworth would break into the home of 87 year old Bessie Lee Thweatt and in the process of robbing her home would murder the elderly woman. James Walker and Rex Beckworth would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
James Walker 2021 Information
|WALKER, JAMES EARL
Rex Beckworth 2021 Information
|BECKWORTH, REX ALLEN
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“The victim, Bessie Lee Thweatt, was at home on the night of January 5, 2000. The 87–year–old woman lived in the same house in Houston County, Alabama, for the past 67 years. She was petite in stature and weighed approximately 112 pounds. She was known to keep money inside the home and her vehicle. On that fateful night, [Rex] Beckworth and stepbrother, James Earl Walker appeared at the Thweatt home. The outside carport light was broken and the phone lines to the house were cut. The assailant broke the back window and entered the home. Mrs. Thweatt’s blood soaked body was later discovered inside her home, which had been ransacked. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“After the murder, Walker and Beckworth went to Motel 6 where Walker’s sister worked. Beckworth was driving Walker’s vehicle. She (Walker’s sister) rented a room to them in her name at Walker’s request. She saw a .22 caliber rifle in the trunk. A hunter found a .22 caliber semi-automatic rifle in the creek at Power Dam Road. He called the Houston County Sheriff’s department and helped retrieve the gun from the water. A state forensic firearm examiner determined that bullet fragments taken from the Thweatt home were .22 caliber. However, the bullets were damaged and the firearm expert could not form an opinion as to a match, although he indicated they were similar. A .22 caliber casing was found at the Thweatt home. The firearm examiner determined that this casing was fired from the .22 caliber rifle pulled from the creek.
“Houston County Sheriffs department investigators focused their attention on Walker and Beckworth. They were known to be living in Etowah County, Alabama. Ron Jones, an officer with the Hokes Bluff police department, knew both Defendants. Providing assistance to the Houston County Sheriffs department, Officer Jones went to [Walker’s] mobile home in June 2000. Defendant Beckworth ran out the door and Defendant Walker hid underneath the love seat in a fetal position. Officer Jones took Walker into custody.
“Once Walker was returned to Houston County from Etowah County he took investigators to the scene of the crime. On video he explained how the two approached the house and that Beckworth broke the rear window and entered the home through that window. He claimed that he never entered the home and later ran from the area when he heard a gun shot. However, a jail inmate, Tim Byrd, testified that Walker admitted to him that he (Walker) had done the killing. Byrd stated that Walker wanted to clear his conscience.
“Dr. Alfredo Parades, a forensic pathologist performed the autopsy on Mrs. Thweatt. Dr. Parades found that the victim was shot at close range due to gunpowder residue on her face. He also noted there were numerous lacerations on the face and three fractures to the cheek. There were a total of nine injuries from blunt force trauma, which included two fractures of the skull. Dr. Parades opined that the victim was alive during the blunt force trauma injuries and these injuries preceded the gunshot wound to the head. The gunshot wound caused the victim’s death. Dr. Parades also testified that Mrs. Thweatt suffered pain.
“The Defense produced four witnesses[;] perhaps the most important was Mark Peacock who was the victim’s grandson. He testified that he knew co-defendant Beckworth from his days as an inmate at Clio. They were incarcerated at the same place. There were discussions between them about Mrs. Thweatt keeping money at her home.”