One of two men charged in the January 2000 murder of 87-year-old Bessie Lee Thweatt was convicted of capital murder by a Houston County Circuit Court jury Monday.

Rex Allen Beckworth could be sentenced to death for the crime, for which his step-brother, James Earl Walker, also faces trial in November.

At press time Tuesday, the jury was hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial. Jurors will make a recommendation of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

One of two men charged in the January 2000 murder of 87-year-old Bessie Lee Thweatt was convicted of capital murder by a Houston County Circuit Court jury Monday.

Rex Allen Beckworth could be sentenced to death for the crime, for which his step-brother, James Earl Walker, also faces trial in November.

At press time Tuesday, the jury was hearing testimony in the sentencing phase of the trial. Jurors will make a recommendation of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. A sentencing hearing before the judge will be set for a later date.

Beckworth and Walker were both charged with capital murder in connection with the execution-style slaying of the elderly woman, who had lived just east of the Dale County line on Highway 84 for about 50 years. They were jailed months after the crime at the culmination of an extensive investigation that involved law enforcement agencies throughout the state and in neighboring states, as well as the FBI.

The Houston County Sheriff's Department investigation had centered on the theft of a .22 caliber rifle taken in a burglary in the north Alabama city of Piedmont Dec. 29, 1999 which was believed to have been was used to kill Mrs. Thweatt sometime during the weekend of Jan. 8-10. Her body was found by relatives Monday, Jan. 10, 2000.

Preliminary autopsy results showed Mrs. Thweatt died of a gunshot wound to the head, and she appeared to have sustained significant trauma by blows to her body before she died.

Glover and Land said Beckworth and Walker surfaced as suspects in the brutal murder shortly after a rifle believed to be the murder weapon was found in a creek near Mrs. Thweatt's home. The Remington Speed Master Model 552, with its stock removed, was found Jan. 21, 2000 in the creek at Power Dam Road.

The rifle was later determined by forensic experts to be the same weapon used to kill the elderly widow. Investigators also discovered the gun had been stolen from a home near Piedmont in Cherokee County near the Calhoun County line Dec. 29, 1999.

Authorities said Beckworth and Walker had ties to that area and were believed to be in the area at the time of the burglary, and in the Houston County area at the time of Mrs. Thweatt's murder.

Walker's trial is set for the Nov. 18 term of court in Houston County.

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