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Former Redwood Falls man pleads guilty in murder of St. Cloud State professor

Last June, Jason Beckman, age 45, a former Redwood Falls man with a history of convictions for violent crimes, shot and killed St. Cloud State University professor Dr. Edward Ward in a random shooting in St. Cloud. This week Beckman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Beckman told police he was a drug addict and had mental health issues.

Beckman has a history of convictions for violent crimes for which he received reduced or stayed sentences. He had a felony conviction for third-degree assault in 2018 in Redwood County. His 18-month sentence on that conviction was stayed. Most recently, Beckman was convicted in Redwood County in October 2020 on felony counts of third-degree assault and fifth-degree narcotics, and a gross misdemeanor charge of domestic assault.

According to court records, the 15- and 13-month sentences on the third-degree assault and narcotics convictions were stayed and Beckman was instead sentenced to 115 days in local jail on each charge. The 365-day sentence on the domestic assault conviction was reduced to 90 days in local jail. Beckman was credited with 77 days already spent in jail and was placed on probation.

Beckman was back in court on March 1 of this year and was found to have violated the terms of his probation. Instead of having his probation revoked and his sentences executed, Beckman was again ordered to serve only 90 days in local jail on the probation violation. Under Minnesota law, offenders are only required to serve two-thirds of their sentence incarcerated, or 60 days in this case, leaving Beckman free by May.

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