posttrib
DYNAMIC 
Weather Updates

Killer of Merrillville store clerk gets 80 years

Jeremy K. Blue was sentenced 80 years prisfor murder Judi Simpson-Beaver who was working convenience store Merrillville. |  Phocourtesy

Jeremy K. Blue was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the murder of Judi Simpson-Beaver, who was working at a convenience store in Merrillville. | Photo courtesy Merrillville Police Department

storyidforme: 62990761
tmspicid: 22686848
fileheaderid: 10949519

Updated: April 6, 2014 6:33AM



Two years to the day that Judi Simpson-Beaver was murdered during a convenience store robbery in Merrillville, Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray sentenced her killer to 80 years in prison.

Murray told Jeremy K. Blue the vicious slaying, captured by surveillance cameras, was “profoundly disturbing for everyone to watch” and has caused great suffering for the family of the 48-year-old mother of two.

“This was an execution murder, without a doubt,” Murray said, noting that Blue had completed the robbery at the Lucky Mart, 5695 Cleveland St., in Merrillville and was headed out the door when he turned, shot Simpson-Beaver in the chest, then chased her down behind the counter and killed her with a point-blank shot to the head.

Blue, 22, of Merrillville, apologized to the victim’s family but denied committing the crime. “The truth is I didn’t do any of this stuff that you say I have,” Blue said. “You’re not the only person really suffering. I hope you accept my apology but I have never killed or robbed anyone in my entire life.”

Murray took the unusual step of not awarding credit for the 729 days Blue spent in the Lake County Jail because of numerous write-ups for fighting, disrespecting correctional officers who work there and throwing urine and feces on other inmates.

First Assistant Peter Villarreal presented testimony from Zachary Beaver, 26, the victim’s oldest son, who described the family’s difficulties since his mother’s death. While cleaning out her home, Beaver found toys intended for his young son. Beaver and his younger brother, both veterans, said their mother raised them to be honest and hard-working and had a kind and giving spirit.

In the two years since her death, two more grandchildren were born that Judi Simpson-Beaver never met. Beaver said his mother, who earned a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies in 1999 from Texas Tech, wasn’t there to share his sense of accomplishment when he earned his college degree shortly after her death.

“Jeremy Blue didn’t rob the Lucky Mart. He robbed all of us,” he said.

Jami Martin, the victim’s sister, said her younger nephew was deployed to Afghanistan when the family learned Judi had been murdered. She recalled sitting through the two-week trial, with the horrific photos and disturbing surveillance footage now seared in their minds. “He should pay for the choices he made,” Martin said.

Defense attorney Marc Laterzo offered evidence of Blue’s mental health issues and called Blue’s mother, Nanneetta Blue, to testify. She extended her condolences to Simpson-Beaver’s family. “He (Jeremy) is very paranoid. He is afraid of going to jail. He’s afraid for his life of getting killed in prison. He’s just a boy,” she said.

Laterzo said Blue’s mental issues date to 2003. Some symptoms have progressed, which Laterzo said contributed to Blue’s behavior in jail.

Trial Supervisor Robert Persin argued for consecutive sentencing on the murder and robbery charges and noted the robbery had concluded when Simpson-Beaver asked Blue: “Jeremy, why are you doing this?”

That information — that the victim could have identified Blue — came from Donvell Edwards, 23, who pleaded guilty to robbery in exchange for a maximum 12-year sentence, and Edward Lee Perry, 28, a convicted felon, who provided the handgun used in the robbery. Edwards provided the “Jason-style” hockey mask Blue wore during the crime.

The judge said he was imposing an aggravated sentence because of the nature and circumstances of the crime as well as Blue’s juvenile record and misdemeanor conviction as an adult.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.