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Jury trial expected in case of former student accused of violating gun ban

Joshua Lee Beck of Martinsburg was charged with two misdemeanor counts of possession of firearms on Blue Ridge Community and Technical College's campuses

January 15, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The case of a former Blue Ridge Community and Technical College student accused of repeatedly violating the school’s campus ban on firearms is set to go to trial in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Joshua Lee Beck, 28, of Martinsburg, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of possession of firearms on the school’s campuses in October 2011.

Berkeley County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christine Riley said Tuesday that no plea offer had been extended to Beck, who is being represented by Martinsburg attorney William J. Powell.

Riley said the jury trial could take three days. A trial date had not been set as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the office of presiding Magistrate Charles C. Cole Sr.

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Powell, who declined to comment, replaced James M. Mullins Jr. as Beck’s legal counsel late last year. Court officials said Tuesday they only recently learned that Mullins, of Grundy, Va., died last summer.

The statute under which Beck is charged gives certain individuals or entities the right to prohibit carrying — openly or concealed — any firearm on property under their domain, according to court documents.

Blue Ridge CTC officials told police that Beck was told in August 2011 about the campus ban on firearms outlined in the school’s handbook, but he continued to violate the school’s policy, according to court documents.

A Blue Ridge CTC student told police that a security guard at the college forced Beck to remove a weapon in his possession from campus, but indicated the defendant returned with the firearm the following day when they had class together, according to court documents.

The student said Beck continued to carry a weapon and “even gave a class presentation on concealed weapons while having the weapon in class,” Berkeley County Sheriff’s Lt. R.L. Gardner said in a complaint filed against Beck.

On Aug. 1, Beck allegedly told a Blue Ridge CTC instructor that the college’s head of security gave him permission to carry the weapon on campus after he was told to remove it from the school’s technical center at 5550 Winchester Ave., according to court documents.

The security officer later told police he never gave Beck such permission and that he told the defendant that carrying a weapon onto campus is a violation of the student handbook.

Gardner later determined that Beck has a concealed-weapons permit, the documents said.

In addition to Gardner’s complaint, Martinsburg Police Patrol Officer William Parks alleged Beck left a voice-mail message with an administrator at the college’s now former campus at 400 W. Stephen St. that indicates he carried a gun to school on several occasions, according to court documents.

Beck was expelled from the college, Blue Ridge CTC Vice President of Enrollment Management Leslie See confirmed Tuesday.

“The college trusts the judicial system to perform its duties,” See said in a statement when asked about the case Tuesday after leaving the Berkeley County Judicial Center.

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