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Iowa felon sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison after possessing stolen firearms during fiery high‑speed car chase

This news story was published on June 5, 2019.
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CEDAR RAPIDS – A Cedar Rapids man who tried to run over a deputized federal officer three times and struck a canine officer was sentenced May 30, 2019, to more than 12 years in federal prison.

Kelsey Leroy Beckett, age 24, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a January 7, 2019 guilty plea to one count of possessing a firearm as a felon, one count of escape, and one count of assault with a dangerous and deadly weapon.

In November 2016, Beckett led law enforcement officers on a high-speed car chase through highly populated parts of Cedar Rapids and Hiawatha, Iowa. Beckett drove through the lawns of residences and the parking lot of a daycare center, and struck a skid loader and a parked car. The car Beckett was driving—not his own car—caught on fire in the process. During the fiery chase, Beckett totaled a United States Marshal’s Service (USMS) vehicle and tried three times to run over a USMS task force officer. The officer had his service firearm drawn and his badge displayed. Another officer was so afraid for the officer’s life that he was yelling at the officer to shoot Beckett.

After unsuccessfully attempting to run over the federal officer, Beckett then tried to flee on foot. A K-9 officer’s dog temporarily stopped Beckett, but Beckett struck the dog multiple times. The dog bit Beckett in self-defense. It was the first time the dog had to bite a suspect to preserve the dog’s own life.

Beckett had previously served 30 months in federal prison after possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number in 2013. At the time he fled, Beckett was a fugitive from a residential reentry center, and he had two loaded, stolen firearms in his car. One of the firearms, a Glock .40 caliber pistol, was in plain view on the driver’s side floorboard of the car. It had an extended, 22-round Glock magazine that was full, including one round in the chamber.

Court documents show that Beckett has a long history of assaultive behavior. From as far back as 2009, Beckett beat up a female college student for no apparent reason—attacking her from behind and kicking her while she lay on the ground screaming for help. Just weeks later, Beckett struck a shelter staff member in the head several times with his elbow and put her in a head lock. In 2012, Beckett was convicted of assault causing bodily injury after he fought with loss prevention officers in the course of stealing items from a department store. Beckett also has a history of unlawfully possessing firearms. In 2013, Beckett was convicted in federal court for possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. After Beckett was released from federal prison in 2015, he had his supervised release revoked twice, including for the November 2016 incident.

Beckett was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Beckett was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment. He was ordered to make over $8,000 in restitution to the USMS, because he totaled a USMS vehicle in the chase. He must also serve a 3-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system. Beckett’s 151‑month sentence follows a 24‑month sentence he began serving in 2016 for violating his supervised release in his 2013 federal firearms case. Earlier this month, a local woman, Saudia Raquel Watkins, who provided Beckett a car ride and smoked marijuana with him while he was on the lam, was sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to one count of misprision of a felony.

Beckett is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported back to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy L. Vavricek and investigated by the United States Marshal’s Service.

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