Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend at their Palm Springs apartment, and who then claimed she had committed suicide.
James Beushausen, 35, is accused in the death of Jaylynn Amanda Keith, 27, whose body was found about 10 a.m. March 15, 2017 in a bathtub at the Belardo Road apartment the couple shared. Keith was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the center of her forehead, according to an arrest warrant declaration.
Palm Springs police allege that the positioning of her body in the bathtub in relation to where investigators found the gun was inconsistent with the theory that Keith shot herself. The firearm, a 9mm pistol, was found beneath her body, though Beushausen allegedly told investigators that he’d moved her body after waking up and finding her in the bathroom.
Palm Springs Detective Chris Jaeger testified during a preliminary hearing earlier this year that Keith texted several friends on the morning of March 14, after she and Beushausen got into an argument. Beushausen told police the argument stemmed from his substantial drinking habit and cell phone use, Jaeger said.
Keith texted family members that Beushausen had become “psycho crazy” during the altercation, and she was afraid things would get “physically bad” when she told him she wanted to break up, according to the declaration.
In one text message, she relayed to a friend that Beushausen had a pistol out of his gun safe, which scared her and caused her to take the safe keys and hide them, Jaeger testified.
She intended on telling him she wanted to leave him “when he sobered up” and had already made arrangements with family and friends for another place to live, according to the declaration.
Though Keith’s family members and friends stated that she had no previous history of depression or suicidal thoughts, Beushausen’s attorney, Greg Johnson, said internet searches regarding suicide and depression were found on her phone.
One such search was entered about 40 minutes before Beushausen called 911 to report the shooting. Keith suffered from a potentially painful illness that has been tied to suicide in some patients, and was referenced in the internet searches on her phone, Johnson said.
Police found Beushausen in possession of Keith’s phone on the morning she was shot, and Jaeger said Beushausen knew the passcode to unlock her phone.
In the months following her death, Beushausen moved to McAllen, Texas, where he was eventually arrested by Palm Springs investigators on Oct. 18 in the parking lot of a shopping center.
Although police alleged that Beushausen had “abruptly quit his job” and left for Texas, after the woman’s deathm family members and friends say that Beushausen did not leave California to flee, but rather to move back to his family’s hometown, where his siblings still lived.
In addition to murder, Beushausen is charged with two counts of possessing assault weapons, stemming from rifles with banned attachments that investigators allegedly found at his home.
Beushausen remained held on $1.1 million bail.
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