An Oro Valley man convicted of killing his live-in girlfriend has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Paul Beam, 36, was sentenced last Wednesday in the Pima County Superior Court courtroom of Judge Clark W. Munger.
Munger ruled that Beam should spend 25 years to life in prison for the 2008 strangling death of Lisa Berrie, 25. The sentence mandates that Beam spend at least 25 calendar years in prison, with 525 days credit for the time he has been in Pima County Adult Detention Center.
He was also mandated to pay $81,000 in restitution to the Berrie family.
Beam was convicted of first-degree murder on Nov. 25, 2009.
Beam strangled Berrie to death at their Oro Valley apartment in August 2008 following an argument. Berrie left behind two children, ages 4 and 9, who were home when Beam killed their mother.
Numerous members of Berrie's family attended the sentencing, along with Beam's father and stepmother. The judge allowed the family to address the court before he sentenced Beam.
Berrie's father, Marc Berrie, gave a tearful statement about the family's anguish since their daughter was killed.
"The last 17 months have been a nightmare," Marc Berrie said. "Losing a 25-year-old daughter was a senseless act of savagery."
Marc Berrie described Beam as a remorseless killer who appeared pleased at the numerous child-custody hearings the family attended in the months following Lisa Berrie's death.
"The hearings were especially difficult for us because we had to sit across from our daughter's killer, who grinned at us in senseless delight," Marc Berrie said.
Addressing the court, Beam's attorney, Darlene Edminson O'Brien, said her client had shown considerable remorse and never denied having killed Lisa.
"Mr. Berrie, talking about Paul looking at them in a very menacing and relishing way, that simply did not happen," Edminson O'Brien said.
From the gallery, Marc Berrie interrupted, saying, "In juvenile court."
Edminson O'Brien said the Berrie family's anger toward Beam was understandable.
Marc Berrie also told the court that he and his wife have moved to Tucson from Delaware since their daughter's murder. He described how his wife had to quit her job as a school teacher. The couple also has spent their savings and put their house in Delaware up for sale. Marc Berrie said they have been unable to sell the house or make payments, and likely will have to give up the home.
He also said Lisa's children have been in therapy since their mother was killed. Lisa Berrie and Beam had a daughter who was 3 years old at the time of Berrie's death. Lisa Berrie had a son named Jeremy from a previous relationship.
"Paul (Beam) gave to him a dead mother for his seventh birthday," Marc Berrie said. At the time of her death, Lisa Berrie was planning a birthday party for her son.
Sobs were heard after Marc Berrie made his statements.
Lisa's mother, Linda Berrie, also made a statement, describing what she believed was evidence of a pattern of abuse at the hands of Beam.
"She was afraid of him, as he threatened her life and monitored her every action," Linda Berrie said.
She told the court that Lisa had planned to move to Delaware to escape Beam and his controlling ways. To that end, Linda Berrie said her daughter had applied for jobs in Delaware in the months before she was killed.
"He made his own daughter an orphan," Linda Berrie said. "Please keep him out of decent society."
The emotion was evident when Lisa's son Jeremy stood to address the court. Holding a teddy bear, the boy stood before the judge and read a brief statement.
"I feel mad and sad," Jeremy said. "Because of this man my sister is an orphan."
The boy asked the judge to impose a life sentence.
Holding a framed photograph of his mother, Jeremy said "This was my mother."
Beam sat in the jury box during the hearing, clad in orange jail-issued shirt and pants.
"I would like to express my extreme regret for my actions," Beam said in a near whisper.
Beam also said he was saddened that his daughter would have to go through life without a mother.
In a tearful closing of his statement, Beam told the court he doesn't seek forgiveness.
"I don't ask for forgiveness, because I can't forgive myself," Beam said.
While Beam hasn't sought absolution, his lawyer plans to ask the court to give him a new trial. Last month, Edminson O'Brien filed a motion to hold a new trial in light of information that one of the jurors might not have answered truthfully questions asked during jury selection.
Jurors were asked if they or members of their family had experience with domestic violence. The juror did not reveal that in 2003 she had a restraining order against a former boyfriend with whom she had a child. The woman told authorities at the time that her boyfriend had pushed her and burnt her with a curling iron.
In 2000, the man filed for a restraining order against the woman, claiming she hit him and tried to stab him with a knife.
Judge Munger has not yet ruled on the motion for a new trial.