Teen murder suspects' mother claims their innocence

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno Police said the pair admitted to shooting and killing two other teens. The victims have been identified as 18-year-old Justin Hesketh and 16-year-old Brandon Moore. Police said the incident all began with an exchange of 'mean looks.'

The older suspect is being held in the Fresno County Jail and the youngest is in juvenile hall. The mother of the two murder suspects told Action News her sons are innocent. And she can't understand how they could be mixed up in a murder case and end up here in jail. But Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the Beard brothers are violent gang members.

Nikkia Rojas has shed a lot of tears since her two teenage sons were arrested Wednesday for the murder of two other teens. "In this situation, there's a lot of people that are hurting... the victims, my boys, my family, their family, it's just all bad," Rojas said.

Thursday evening Rojas told Action News her sons are respectful teens, not murderers. "My kids don't go out and shoot people," she said. "They don't go out and fight people, they keep peace."

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Fresno Police investigators painted a different picture of Rojas' sons. They said the incident started with an exchange of 'dirty looks' Tuesday night. The two victims, Hesketh and Moore, were sitting in a pick-up truck at Herndon and Polk when four teens, led by the Beard brothers, walked across the street in front of them.

Police Chief Dyer said that's when 'mean looks' were exchanged by the two groups. A shot was fired, but Hesketh and Moore thought a rock had been thrown. The victims got out of the truck and chased down the suspects.

"They were able to catch him and grab him by the clothing and they were attempting to hold him when both Jarrad Beard and his [15-year-old] brother... both of them pulled out handguns and began firing at Hesketh and Moore."

Hesketh died at the scene, and Moore passed away at a local hospital. Rojas said she talked with her sons in custody, but not about the incident. And even though she's proclaiming their innocence she said her heart goes out to the victims' families.

"I couldn't imagine you get a call to say you'll never see your son again," Rojas said.

The Beard brothers are expected in court Friday for an arraignment. 15-year-old Jerry Beard will be tried as an adult.

The two victims in this case had both been students at Fresno's Central East High School.

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