Relatives of Mark Becker and Ed Thomas say they will rely on their faith to help them move forward. Today, a jury in Butler County found the 24-year-old Becker guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Thomas – who was respected as a coach, teacher and community leader in the town of Parkersburg. Thomas’ son Aaron says the verdict won’t “bring closure” to the families.
“We do ask for continued prayers,” Aaron said at a press conference shortly after the jury’s verdict was read. “Our family is not over anything and the Becker family is not over anything. We are still going to deal with this daily as long as we live.” Aaron says his family takes comfort in the belief that his father is in “a better place.”
“He’s where he’s supposed to be and God is definitely watching over us and taking care of us,” Aaron said. “Hopefully, we can continue to have an impact and carry on that legacy he left us with.” Aaron Thomas works as Aplington-Parkersburg High School Athletic Director, his father’s old job.
Mark Becker, meanwhile, now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the chance for parole. His attorney claimed Becker was insane on the morning he shot Thomas in a makeshift weight training room near Aplington-Parkersburg High School. During the trial, jurors heard testimony about Becker’s belief that Thomas was the devil. Becker’s mother, Joan, also met with reporters following today’s verdict.
“God is with us. God is going to continue to give us strength to move forward and heal,” Becker said. Jurors were in their fifth day of deliberations when they informed the judge they reached a unanimous decision. Joan Becker says the last several years have been very difficult for her family as they tried to help Mark.
“Although Mark and we as his parents, attempted to go through all the proper channels to get Mark the mental health treatment he so desperately needed, the system failed miserably,” Joan said. “Our son would never have taken the life of another person in his sane mind. Ed Thomas was a victim of a victim.” Joan Becker held hands with her son, Scott, and her husband, Dave, as she addressed the media.
“Our sorrow runs very deep for the family of Ed Thomas, for our church family, for our communities and for our own families, but most of all for our son Mark who we love so very much,” Joan said. Aaron Thomas is hoping residents of Parkersburg can begin to live their lives without the presence of news reporters who have been a common sight in town since a tornado struck the area in late May 2008.
“We ask for our community’s sake, a chance to start to grieve and heal,” Thomas said. “We’ve had two years from the tornado and this tragedy…hopefully now, we can just be Parkersburg, a place without media and cameras, and go about our business without worrying about a microphone or somebody wanting a quote or an interview.” Becker will be sentenced at 10 a.m. April 14 in the Butler County Courthouse in Allison.