George Beato, 9/30/1979, was convicted late Friday by a 12 person jury of first degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. The trial in this 2016 murder case, lasted for 2 weeks. Following the verdict, Beato was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Judge Jalal Harb. This was the second time this case was tried. The first case resulted in a hung jury in May of this year. The deceased victim in this case was Alexander Vigo.
Kristie Ducharme was the Assistant State Attorney who prosecuted the case. The defense attorney was Sean Landers.
State Attorney Brian Haas reacted to the verdict by stating, “George Beato is a cold-blooded murderer, I am thankful that we were able to obtain justice for the victim’s family. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Assistant State Attorney Kristie Ducharme worked tirelessly to convict Beato.”
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Alexander Vigo’s body was found Jan. 19, 2016 in a wooded area near the intersection of Sand Mine Road and Island Club West.
Investigators say Vigo was last seen alive the night of Jan. 17, 2016 where he was seen walking out of the Island Club West subdivision toward the wooded area, where his body was later found.
Detectives said two residents reported hearing gunshots in the area between 11:40 p.m. and midnight.
Surveillance video shows another man following him at a distance toward the wooded area. Then the man that was following Vigo was seen on video “stealthily” making his way back to the subdivision at about 11:47 p.m., toward Beato’s home. Deputies say a few minutes later, Beato is seen on different footage ariving home and carrying a firearm.
A Jan. 20, 2016 autopsy found that Vigo had been shot two to four times. The medical examiner recovered two projectiles from Vigo’s body, which are identified as small caliber, likely .32 or .380.
The cause of death was listed as “multiple gunshot wounds,” and the manner of death as “homicide.”
Deputies obtained a search warrant for Beato’s house, and Beato was interviewed during the search. Beato told detectives he doesn’t own any firearms and that he hasn’t touched one since August 2015, when he used military-issued firearms as part of his National Guard training.
However, deputies said that when they searched Beato’s home office, they found a gun case and a bag of .38 special ammunition.
Deputies say Beato later went to the management office at Island Club West and demanded to see surveillance video. When they refused, he tried again later the same day, calling on the telephone and asking to see it.
Deputies say that during the search, they also found evidence that Beato had been counterfeiting and trafficking in fraudulent credit cards and personal identification.