Final arguments in Beard brothers double murder trial

FRESNO, Calif.

Closing arguments in the murder trial against Jarrad and Jerry Beard started Tuesday and wrapped up for the day just a little while ago.

Mike Frye spent about four hours addressing the jury Tuesday, trying to distill a complicated case into a simple decision for jurors. He said the bottom line is that two teens armed to the teeth murdered two teens who expected a fistfight.

When the flashing lights of first responders died down, two lives had been snuffed at this northwest Fresno apartment complex last December.

Justin Hesketh and Brandon Moore were shot to death, and Frye told jurors it was murder. He said Jarrad Beard was especially callous in killing Moore -- who was already wounded.

"Takes his gun over and it's a blow to the chest, right to the chest, and it's a blow to the thigh," said Frye. "Why to the thigh? It's a coup de grace."

Jarrad Beard and his younger brother Jerry both admit to firing guns at Hesketh and Moore, but they say it was self-defense.

Defense attorneys said Hesketh and Moore were in a meth-fueled rage and acted violently, giving the Beards reason to believe they were in imminent danger. But Frye said drug use is nothing but a red herring meant to distract jurors from the true facts of the case.

"Ask yourself, 'What is the relevance of methamphetamine to this case?' and it's limited to none," he said.

Jarrad Beard admitted he shot out a tire on Hesketh's pickup truck, then his group all ran away. Hesketh and Moore gave chase.

A friend who was with the victims said they thought the Beards threw a rock at the truck, and they expected a fistfight.

Frye said even if jurors believed everything the Beards said, the use of force was too much to argue self-defense.

"The defendants were armed to the teeth with guns," he said. "The victims were unarmed save for this small metal pipe."

Frye just wrapped up his closing arguments late Tuesday afternoon. Defense attorney Scott Baly also gave his closing arguments.

Phil Cherney will give his on Wednesday. After that, it's up to the jury whether this is a case of self-defense, murder, or manslaughter.

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