18 months after her death, family of Peoria nurse still looking for answers

The county attorney declined to prosecute, citing “No Reasonable Likelihood of Conviction.” Morgan Loew investigates.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:49 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:58 AM MST
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PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Leanne Beck was a nurse, mother, daughter and friend. She died suddenly at the age of 33. A year and a half later, her family and friends still have questions about what happened and why nobody has been held accountable for her death.

Family members of Leanne tell Arizona’s Family Investigates they still do not have a clear understanding of what happened the night she died. “And I don’t think we ever will,” said Tawny Boyce, Leanne’s cousin.

Peoria Police forwarded the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, recommending homicide charges against Leanne’s husband, Jason Beck. But the county attorney declined to prosecute, citing “No Reasonable Likelihood of Conviction.”

According to the report from Peoria Police, Jason Beck called 911 at 3:07 a.m. The dispatcher described him as being hysterical and stating that Leanne was throwing up and was not breathing. Police body cam video shows Jason attempting to do CPR when first responders arrive on scene. Jason’s mother is also in the home. She lives next door, and Jason tells investigators he called her before he called 911.

On the body cam footage, Jason says he and Leanne were out drinking. He tells police the two were trying to reconcile their marriage. However, he says Leanne was drunk by the end of the night. When they got home, she went to bed, then threw up in bed. He says he helped her get into the shower, and then he went to change the sheets. “And when I came back she was kind of just laying in the shower. I put her in the bed and I looked at her stomach and she looked like she wasn’t breathing,” Jason says to police. Then he starts crying.

Paramedics pronounce Leanne dead at the scene. According to the police report, two paramedics later tell investigators they believed Leanne had been dead for “some time,” because she was cold to the touch. Moments later, one of the paramedics approaches a police officer who is wearing a camera. “There’s some blood on her left cheek that’s not consistent with her being in the state she’s in,” says the paramedic.

The video shows the first responders examining Leanne’s body, then rolling her onto her side. At that point, they can be heard identifying additional injuries. They include scrapes that paramedics describe as “road rash” on Leanne’s lower back, shoulder blades and heels, as well as a bloody golf ball-sized lump on the back of her head.

Leanne Beck was a mother of two. Her family and friends say she had a baby from a previous relationship when she met Jason. They married in early 2020 and had another baby. Leanne and Jason knew each other from high school. “She was an only child. And so her cousins and her friends were like her sisters,” said Boyce.

“You knew she cared about you. You could feel it,” said Jessi Chiappone, a childhood friend of Leanne’s. “She was like my little sister,” said Kristi Valenti, who worked with Leanne at Mayo Clinic, where Leanne was an organ transplant procurement coordinator.

“Leanne, you couldn’t stop her,” said John Statzula, Leanne’s father. “My daughter was very tenacious and independent. She was a go-getter. She didn’t want to play softball. She wanted to play baseball,” said Statzula.

Friends and family say they were unaware that the relationship between Leanne and Jason included accusations of domestic violence. Peoria Police responded to their residence on at least two occasions. Jason was arrested twice. Leanne was arrested once.

Leanne’s co-workers say they noticed a change in her after she married Jason. They just assumed she had more responsibility at home with two children. “She just wasn’t the bubbly Leanne that I knew anymore. She was sad a lot,” said Kristi Valenti.

But by June 2021, Leanne’s friends and family knew the marriage was in trouble. It was the second time Jason was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Leanne took out an order of protection against him and filed for divorce. “She was done. After June 5, she was done,” said Leanne’s father. He says she moved in with him. “She just told me how embarrassed she was that she was even in this situation,” said Valenti.

It is unclear what led Leanne to meet up with Jason the day before she died. However, he told police they were trying to get back together. According to the medical examiner, Leanne died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Police interviewed Jason at least three times. The following is an excerpt from the first interview with a detective approximately five hours after the 911 call:

“I asked Jason to explain the blood leading from the garage to the master bedroom and he said, ‘Couldn’t tell you.’ He didn’t know how she was bleeding and he never touched her.”

“I asked Jason to explain the injuries on her and he said they have rough sex.”

Four hours later, the detective spoke to Jason again. This time he said when they were driving home the night before, Leanne stated that she needed to pee. Here is another excerpt from the report: “..at approximately 5 MPH Leanne jumped out of the moving vehicle and fell.”

“Jason stopped the vehicle and helped her pee on the side of the road.”

“I asked why he didn’t tell me this during our previous interview and he said he just remembered it.”

While police were continuing their investigation, Leanne’s family members say they were being kept in the dark. “I think it was months before we even found out that she had a head injury. And then months before, it was confirmed that she died of blunt force head trauma,” said Tawny Boyce.

Jason was initially detained by Peoria Police but never formally arrested. His attorney submitted the results of a polygraph test that Jason took and passed. According to the police report, the polygraph examination did not contain significant reactions indicative of deception when Jason was asked if he caused Leanne’s head injury. He responded by saying, “No.”

In October 2022, Peoria Police changed the incident “type” from “Death Investigation” to “Homicide.” Detectives then forwarded the case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for prosecution, recommending charges of negligent homicide. However, on November 15, the County Attorney’s office notified police that they were declining to prosecute the case, citing “No Reasonable Likelihood of Conviction.”

“That is a heartbreaking case,” said the Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. Mitchell says she reviewed a summary of the case before speaking to Arizona’s Family Investigates. “Unfortunately, what you want to do or like to do or think happened does not substitute for the legal standard of a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” she said. Mitchell said her office could review the case if new evidence is discovered.

Jason Beck’s attorneys, David Cantor, Joey Hamby and Nicholas Boca, sent Arizona’s Family the following statement:

Leanne’s family members tell Arizona’s Family Investigates they are unsatisfied with the investigation or the decision not to prosecute Jason. “There’s such a hole in all of our lives. And it’ll never be filled. This will never be right,” said Statzula.

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