Man who opened fire, killed victim in car sentenced to 40 years

Defendant Charles Peterson, center. Top left: FDLE tools show a bullet’s trajectory. Top right: The victim’s car. Bottom left: The defendant’s shoe which was tied to footprints at the scene. Bottom right: FDLE taking plaster casts of shoe impressions at the scene.

MARIANNA – A 38-year-old man who entered an open plea to Second-Degree Murder is in prison today as he begins a 40-year-sentence for shooting and killing a man in his car two years ago.

Charles Edward Peterson, of Marianna, was sentenced to 40 years in prison Nov. 17 after entering an open plea in the Dec. 31, 2021, homicide of Quinton Jerome Beckwith, 33, also of Marianna. Circuit Court Judge Ana Maria Garcia sentenced the defendant under Florida’s 10-20-Life enhanced penalty statute. The first 25 years are minimum/mandatory.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting, interviewed witnesses and developed Peterson as a suspect. As part of a collaborative effort, Champaign, Ill., police, at the request of Jackson County authorities, detained the defendant when he got off a bus there.

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Chief Jackson County Prosecutor Shalla Jefcoat was prepared to present witnesses and evidence at trial proving the defendant fired three shots from a semi-automatic pistol through a rear passenger window of the victim’s car. The victim, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car parked outside a relative’s home, was able to exit the vehicle but collapsed near the front door of the relative’s home.

Jefcoat was prepared to prove to jurors that the defendant was upset about a fight he had with the victim about a week before the shooting. He told witnesses he was going to kill the victim. Just prior to the shooting witnesses said he was going to the victim’s location with a tan Glock 19x.

A Glock 19x like that used in the homicide.

A short time later, other witnesses heard several gunshots from inside the nearby home. The defendant had approached the victim’s vehicle from behind and to the right before firing three shots through a back rear window at the victim. Shell casings there were matched ballistically to a gun the defendant had stolen from a friend and then dumped in the woods after the shooting. A pair of shoes belonging to the defendant, which were found near the gun, were matched to shoe impressions taken from the scene of the shooting.

Basford thanked the JCSO for its work in developing a suspect and tracking him to Illinois, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for its ballistics and shoeprint experts.

For more information, contact Mike Cazalas at, or call 850-381-7454.