MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The family of Birdell Beeks says they have some relief. The man who killed her was found guilty on all charges.
Birdell Beeks was a beloved 58-year-old grandmother.
She was helping her granddaughter apply for a summer job in north Minneapolis when she was shot while sitting in her minivan.
Months later, Josh Ezeka confessed to killing her, saying he was trying to shoot at a rival gang member to scare him when he accidentally struck Beeks. Ezeka says he thought the man was going to come after him, so he fired the nine shots.
It didn’t take the jury long, just over more than hours to decide Josh Ezeka is guilty of premeditated murder. Even though he did not mean to kill Birdell Beeks, officers say he was trying to kill someone else and the law says that intent is transferred and it counts as murder in the first.
After the verdict was read, Senior Hennepin County Attorney Dominick Mathews said, “Getting people to testify in these cases is very tough considering the nature, the fact of what was involved, this was clearly a gang-involved case.”
But together, with the help of Birdell Beeks’ granddaughter, they made it happen.
Chris Freeman, not related to Mike Freeman, is an assistant Hennepin County attorney.
“This is a young lady who lost everything. She lost her core when she lost her grandmother, she got up on that stand and she shone I cannot be more proud of them and their family and I know that Birdell Beeks would have, is, still proud of her for what she did, it was a touching moment and very proud to be a part of it,” Freeman said.
Birdell’s daughter helped too. Sa’Lesha tirelessly pushed her mother’s case forward. After the verdict was read, she cried, “I was praying, I was praying that the justice system did us right because I know sometimes that isn’t always the case and so I was really praying that we got justice for my Mom.”
Her prayers were answered. A jury quickly decided Josh Ezeka was intentionally trying to kill.
“You intended to shoot someone, you just did not get your target, so you intended to do something. Remorse, you wouldn’t have had us waiting for six months, remorse you would not have had us go through a trial, remorse, you would have turned yourself in,” Sa’Lesha said.
Now this wounded family is feeling a bit stronger and bolder.
“I want all young men to know, you make that choice to be a part of a gang, you are making a choice to either end up dead yourself, or in prison and it’s not a good way, either way,” Sa’Lesha said.
The courtroom was packed on Birdell’s side on Wednesday. On the other side sat Ezeka’s parents, and several friends who call themselves Josh’s brothers. They said he is a fine man and never meant to shoot a grandmother.
The penalty for Ezeka’s conviction is life in prison without parole. He has not yet been formally sentenced.