New evidence may muddy teens' double murder trial

FRESNO, Calif.

New evidence was revealed in the case against Jarrad and /*Jerry Beard*/. The Beard brothers are accused of killing /*Justin Hesketh*/ and /*Brandon Moore*/ during a confrontation among the four teenagers in Northwest Fresno.

The Beards are claiming Hesketh and Moore were the aggressors and they shot in self-defense. For the first time, we're now hearing evidence the defense says proves they're right, and new evidence prosecutors say proves they're guilty.

It didn't take long for Fresno police to get 15-year-old Jerry Beard talking about the shooting that led to the deaths of Hesketh and Moore.

"He said that he was in fact in possession of a firearm himself, described it as a 9 mm weapon, and he mentioned that he fired that weapon one time in their direction," said Fresno homicide detective Paul Cervantes.

Investigators say Jerry admitted his older brother, Jarrad, had fired a shot at Hesketh's pickup truck near Herndon and Polk. A foot chase followed and when Hesketh and Moore caught up, Jerry said he fired what he meant as a warning shot. He said 19-year-old Jarrad also fired three or four times.

The coroner's report shows three bullets hit Hesketh; four hit Moore -- including one in the chest at extremely close range. It also showed both victims had meth in their system. Attorneys for the Beards say they supports their claim that Hesketh and Moore were the aggressors.

"A person (on meth) may be very aggressive, is that true?" defense attorney Phil Cherney asked Dr. Michael Chambliss, a Fresno County forensic pathologist who performed autopsies on the victims.

"Yes, aggressiveness is one of those factors that can occur," Dr. Chambliss replied.

The victim's friends admit the boys took drugs that night, but they thought it was ecstasy -- not meth. And their parents tell Action News the drugs don't change the facts of the case.

"We're here today because Justin and Brandon were murdered, so if they did some recreational, experimental drugs, that has nothing to do with why we're here," Debie Hesketh.

A judge wouldn't allow us to get video of the beards in court Wednesday, in part because of the high tensions surrounding the case.

Exclusive Action News video shows the mayhem inside a courtroom five months ago when the beards faced a judge.

Deputies took control before Wednesday's hearing started, and kept the peace between three families with a lot at stake.

Judge Wayne Ellison decided there is enough evidence for the Beard brothers to go to trial on murder charges.

Prosecutors will decide before a hearing later this month whether to pursue the death penalty against Jarrad Beard.

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