Spotlight shines on the last words of a Fresno teen

October 18, 2012 12:02:31 AM PDT
A spotlight shines on the last words of a teenager who was shot to death, as two Fresno brothers fight charges they murdered the boy and his friend. Was it just a curse, or a racial slur and a death threat?

The language was harsh and the one person who heard those words -- other than the victims and the suspects -- told his story Wednesday. Jarrad and Jerry Beard are on trial for shooting and killing the boys who were chasing them.

The Beards claim Brandon Moore's last words help prove they shot Moore and Justin Hesketh in self-defense last December, but someone else who heard those words says it wasn't so cut and dried.

A showdown between teenagers reached a violent crescendo as four boys ran down a narrow sidewalk. Justin Hesketh and Brandon Moore had chased Jarrad and Jerry Beard through the maze-like apartment complex after a confrontation outside the gates of the complex. Just after they passed this apartment, fear filled many of the nearby homes.

"Shots were heard," one resident testified Wednesday. "I ordered my family to hit the floor."

We're not allowed to name the witnesses or show you their faces, but several heard at least three gunshots. Only one saw the four boys run past him, just before the shots were fired.

"At first, I didn't think it was anything serious [that] was going on," he said. "I just thought it was a bunch of kids messing around."

The Beards both admit they fired guns at Hesketh and Moore, but they say it was in self-defense. According to one of their defense attorneys, Jarrad Beard heard the other teens screaming racial epithets and death threats.

"Whoopty, whoop, woo, you f***ing n*****s," is what Scott Baly said Jarrad Beard heard. "Whoopty, whoop, woo, we fixing to kill you."

The witness who saw the chase just before its deadly conclusion says Brandon Moore was yelling at the Beards, but the words were significantly different.

"Those four ran by me, the one at the very far back said, 'Get back here you little ****er,'" the witness said.

Still, defense attorney Phil Cherney pointed out the words he heard could still be considered menacing.

"Would it be something like, 'Get back here little f***er!'?" he yelled at the witness.

"Correct," the man said.

"And in doing that, did you take it as a threat?" Cherney asked.

"Uh, yes," the witness said.

Attorneys are also arguing over how quickly the gunshots were fired. Nearly all the witnesses say the shots came in rapid succession without a pause. But one witness said Wednesday he can't remember if there was a pause between the first few shots and the last one. On the night of the shooting, he told a police officer he heard a pause.

Prosecutor Mike Frye has argued the Beards fired off a few shots, hitting Hesketh and Moore, then paused before shooting one more time, hitting Moore at very close range -- an execution, Frye called it.

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