East Brewton native charged with murder

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An East Brewton native is being held at the St. Charles Parish, La., detention center on a charge of first-degree murder and aggravated arson.

Toby Beasley, 32, formerly of East Brewton residing in Hahnville, La., was arrested along with Janna L. Firmin, 34, of Picayune, Miss. Firmin was charged with principle to first-degree murder and principle to aggravated arson.

The arrest was made Feb. 11 after sheriff’s officers in the St. Rose, La.; community completed an investigation into a suspicious fire in the city.

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Sgt. Dwayne LaGrange said information previously reported was accurate, however any new information concerning the case would not be released.

“We are under a gag order in the case and no new information can be given,” LaGrange said Thursday.

The Feb. 11 fire Beasley is accused of starting claimed the live of an 88-year-old Ophelia Shepard who was reportedly a double-amputee patient. Two other residents of the home, believed to be grandsons of the victim, were able to escape the blaze.

LaGrange said the suspect poured an accelerant inside the house and lit the fire before the grandsons were able to force him out of the home. The grandsons were transported to St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling, La., for treatment.

Published reports in Louisiana say Beasley and Firmin were arrested after witnesses gave a description of a vehicle seen leaving the scene at the time of the fire. The couple was arrested when officers stopped their vehicle on I-310 near New Orleans Feb. 12, just one day after the blaze.

Both Beasley and Firmin are being held at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Center without bond.