Fair Trial For

Celeste Beard Johnson

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"Even the mighty oak was yesterday's acorn that stood it's ground"

In The Beginning...

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 In 1995, Celeste married Steven Beard, Jr.  He was 70 and she was 32.  He was wealthy and was a member of the Austin Country Club where she worked as a waitress. Together, they built their dream home at 3900 Toro Canyon Road in an upscale neighborhood in Austin, Texas.  The marriage clearly was not perfect.  Steven drank excessively every evening, and
Celeste escaped to her friends.  She spent a great deal of money in search of happiness, yet it only made things worse. Jennifer and Kristina are Celeste's identical twin daughters.  At Celeste's insistence, Steven adopted the twins in 1998, just three short months
before they turned 18.  He did this because Celeste said she wanted her
daughters to inherit along with Steven's three adult children that were
from his previous marriage.
Beard Mansion

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  On July 30, 1998, a year-and-a-half BEFORE Tarlton shot Steven, Celeste intelligibly signed the Marital Trust Agreement.  She understood two things; it was irrevocable, and it was a tax shelter
She agreed to use her name (Celeste Beard) so the trust had to pay her income off the estate each year.  These two elements are required by the I.R.S. for a Marital Trust to qualify as a tax shelter.  For her agreement, Steven gave her the two houses and $500,000.  Paying this
amount was far cheaper than paying the estate taxes.  This kept Celeste on an allowance.  Also, Steven never thought the twins would do anything to hurt Celeste to get to the money.  At this time in 1998, the estate was distributed 50/50 (Marital Trust/Children's Trust).

Since the Marital Trust is irrevocable, that means it can't be changed.  Any funds that Celeste received from the Marital Trust had to have the consent of the trustee.  Steven was the only trustee until his death.  All of Celeste's expenditures required Steven's approval for payment.  No matter how much money Celeste spent, Steven always approved the payments.  Celeste knew that after Steven's death, she would have to plead to Bank of America (the successor trustee) for approval to spend more than her yearly distribution. 

On November 23, 1999, while Steven was still in Intensive Care, and unbeknownst to Celeste, Mr. Kuperman (the Beard's attorney, and now Bank of America's attorney), made an amendment to the Marital Trust.  He placed Phase I and Phase II of the upscale Davenport Village Shopping Centers that Steven built into the Marital Trust.  Mr. Kuperman brought
the papers to the hospital and explained them to Steven.   David Kuperman Testimony 
Steven agreed and signed the documents, and changed his will and placed an additional $20 million of his assets into the Marital Trust for Celeste.  By doing this, now only about $230,000 was projected to go into the Children's Trust.  This infuriated all five children.  So much
so that Steven cancelled the adult childrens' Thanksgiving visit because they were blaming Celeste and talking ugly about her to Steven by leaving hateful messages on his answering machine.  Just days before they were to fly to Austin, Steven personally called each of his three adult children and told them he did not wish to see any of them.     Original Invitation    

During the trial, the promise of money (the $20+ million in the Marital Trust) was emphasized over and over for the jury to convict Celeste of Capital Murder for Remuneration.  Celeste was advised by her legal team not to testify during her trial and she regrets that decision
immensely. She was advised not to testify because her legal team felt she would be better off to let her friends be her defenders.  Celeste had so much negative publicity (and even one juror admitted to reading the Austin newspaper after the trial started). The defense was sure
that the jury would not feel the same negative way about her friends that they felt about Celeste.

Celeste knew that she would only receive income payments off the Marital Trust, but Tarlton didn't know about the trusts.  Since Celeste spent sizeable amounts of money, Steven set up the Marital Trust differently than the Children's Trust.  Steven clearly intended for Celeste to continue to live in the manner she was now accustomed.


The prosecution knowingly fooled the jurors into believing that Celeste basically only owned the clothes on her back, which was far from the truth.  Celeste owned outright $1.5 million in real estate, which was titled in her name, including her own membership to Barton Creek Country Club.  Celeste also had acquired over $500,000 in fine arts, over $500,000 in jewelry and furs, and two vehicles totaling close to $120,000.  All of Celeste's assets were owned solely by her, free and clear of any debt or encumbrance. David Kuperman Testimony   


Steven knew he was sick and it was his intention to spend as much of the money as he could before he died.  He was going to enjoy himself and he wanted Celeste to be a part of it.  Steven spent $60,000 to take a limousine through Europe and this did not even include meals or even lodging.  He diligently planned every detail of this exhorbitant trip.  Steven did not feel all the "love" from the children that they said they gave him at the criminal trial.  Steven provided for and spoiled Celeste because he said they were soulmates.


Steven set up the Marital Trust so that it would stay intact until after Celeste died.  When Celeste died, then it was to forward to the children.  It's not logical for Celeste to kill Steven for items she already had, or for a Trust Fund she never had, or never would have the
principle of.  David Kuperman Testimony