Heavy police presence prevents repeat court explosion

FRESNO, Calif.

Tuesday's hearing was much calmer. 19-year-old Jarrad Beard and his 15-year-old brother Jerry both pleaded not guilty to the double murder. We're identifying the minor because he's charged as an adult. The Beards are accused of killing Justin Hesketh and Brandon Moore the week before Christmas.

The beefed-up security presence was obvious before you even got into the courtroom Tuesday, and the net result was less friction inside the courtroom.

A quick weapons check welcomed visitors to Department 30 of the Fresno County courthouse Tuesday morning. Several sheriff's deputies also made their presence known inside the courtroom as brothers Jarrad and Jerry Beard entered pleas of not guilty to double murder charges. The judge wouldn't allow us to get video of their faces, but their family proudly wore pictures of the teens.

"We just want them to know that we're here to support them," said their aunt, Nicole Tucker. "We're trying to get the truth out, you know. We feel bad about everything that happened, but Jarrad and Jerry are not gang members."

Fresno police called the Beards gang members when they arrested the teens, but the charges filed by prosecutors don't accuse the suspects of gang involvement. Still, even family members aren't saying the beards are completely untainted.

"They were carrying weapons," a reporter pointed out to Tucker.

"Yeah, a lot of kids carry weapons," she said. "That doesn't automatically mean they're in a gang."

The Beards' last court hearing devolved into violence after family members broke court rules by talking to the defendants.

"I love you Jerry," a family member yelled to the 15-year-old defendant on Dec. 23.

"Folks, there's no communication with the inmates at all," a deputy interrupted.

Exclusive Action News video shows deputies taking down Joseph Moore after he made an aggressive move towards the beards' family. Moore's nephew was one of the murder victims. This time around, Moore was not in court and deputies limited each family to four supporters in the courtroom. The beards' family complained about the restriction, but legal analyst Ralph Torres says it was the right move.

"A judge has absolute discretion to keep safety in the courtroom, decorum, security, absolute security, so it's not unusual to do that," Torres said.

The Beards are due back in court next month. Prosecutors could pursue the death penalty against Jarrad, the older brother. His brother can only get life in prison because he's a minor.

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