Fair Trial For

Celeste Beard Johnson

Image description

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


The Crime

Image description

    On October 2, 1999, around 3:00 am, Tracey Tarlton shot Steven Beard in the stomach with a 20-guage shotgun while he was sleeping in his bed.  Dick DeGuerin said, "Tracey Tarlton shot Steven Beard in the stomach because it was the only thing she could see."  Steven Beard was sleeping on his back; he was morbidly obese, and he had a very big stomach.  Steven fumbled for the phone and dialed 911, "I need an ambulance.  My guts jumped out of my stomach!  Hurry!"

    Years before the shooting, Steven and Celeste decided that Celeste would sleep in the children's wing because his C-Pap breathing machine kept her awake.  Celeste did not hear him calling.  Mr. DeGuerin asked the EMS operator, "But you did hear Mr. Beard say or ask someone to call his wife.  She was in another part of the house?"  Ms. Villegas said, "That's what he said to 911, yes."  Kristina was sleeping in her bed, and Celeste was sleeping in Jennifer's bed.  Jennifer had gone to The Lake House with Amy Cozart (twins' friend) and Christopher Doose (Jennifer's boyfriend).  From outside, the police officers broke into the master bedroom because Kristina and Celeste were in the children's wing and couldn't hear anything.  They were awakened only after Celeste's Cocker Spaniel, Nikki, woke them up because there were lights shining into their room.

Image description

      Steven and Celeste had long planned an extended trip through Europe commencing on October 3, 1999.  They both were hoping that Tarlton would latch on to another friend while they were gone, and stop her incessant calling to the Beard telephones.  Initially, the police didn't know it was a crime scene and this caused a delay in securing the evidence.  They sent Steven to Brackenridge Hospital in Austin via Star Flight helicopter.  Celeste gave them written permission for the search of 3900 Toro Canyon Road.  Officers extensively searched the house, grounds and vehicles and found NOTHING to link Celeste to the shooting or to Tarlton.  At the teenagers' urging, police drove to Tarlton's home and retrieved Tarlton's shotgun without a warrant and performed a ballistics test on October 9, 1999. 

     Tarlton's shotgun had her name engraved on a plate that was bolted to the barrel. Tarlton was then arrested for Injury to an Elderly Individual.