Fair Trial For

Celeste Beard Johnson

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


The Outcome

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    It had been reported to Steven, while he was in the hospital, by his friend Philip, who is also a criminal defense attorney, that Tarlton's defense might include Celeste.  Steven hired Charlie Burton as a defense attorney, paying him a $75,000 retainer to protect Celeste.  Mr. Burton interviewed Jennifer and Kristina in his office on October 5, 1999, taking notes.  He also typed memorandums; Kristina's was dated November 10, 1999, and Jennifer's was dated February 17, 2000.  They changed their stories completely in the trial.  Charlie Burton Testimony    


     One month after Steven's death, Celeste's twin daughters, along with their boyfriends, began a secret campaign to incriminate Celeste because they wanted the money.  There is a special pain that comes from knowing that the children you gave birth to and loved are now trying to hurt you.

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 In 2002, front page headlines read, "Tracey Tarlton pleaded guilty to the 1999 shooting of retired television executive, Steven Beard, Jr., and agreed to testify against Beard's widow in her Capital Murder case".  Tarlton received a plea-bargained sentence of 20 years for her
testimony.  Tarlton recieved parole in mid 2011.  Protest Tarlton's Parole

 Tarlton spun a tale of meeting Celeste on Friday, October 1, 1999, for a "walk-through" of the Toro Canyon home specifying what door to use and where to park.  The Beard's family planner and Celeste's personal planner showed appointments; Celeste went to two hair salons and cashed a check at her bank during the time of the alleged walk-through.  The Beard maid, along with business personnel and records, provided proof that the walk-through could not have taken place as testified by Tarlton.  Even Christopher Doose arrived at the Toro Canyon home from San Angelo, and no one saw Tarlton or her SUV there.

   Tarlton testified that she and Celeste had a sexual relationship both at St. David's and at Timberlawn.  Celeste vehemently denies this.  Motels were mentioned but there were never any records produced for any so-called liaisons.  Even the teenagers, with their devious behavior, couldn't get any pictures to support their testimony of Celeste being intimate with

    On April 1, 2000, Kristina's Power of Attorney was revoked.  Celeste had found forged checks, tens of thousands of dollars were moved out of her account, and valuable items were removed from the house resulting in charges being filed against the young adults involved.  This encouraged them to move forward in their plan to convict Celeste.  Early April 2000 (ADA Mange couldn't remember the date, but it was April 7th or 9th, 2000), Jennifer and Kristina Beard, with their lawyer, Wayne Meissner (who soon resigned from representing them); Justin Grimm (Kristina's ex-husband) with his lawyer, Alan Bennett (who also represents Donna
Goodson and Bank of America); Christopher Doose (Jennifer's ex-boyfriend) with his lawyer; Ron Tonkin; brought audio tapes to ADA Bill Mange.  The teenagers continued to bring other items to ADA Mange after this date and unaccompanied by any attorneys.  Sgt. Bergman and ADA Mange did not have an evidence log of any of these items. 


Sgt. Bergman Testimony   ADA Bill Mange Testimony

The teenagers were never arrested for the forged checks or thefts because they agreed to testify against Celeste.  Donna Goodson was arrested, but she was never tried in court for stealing Celeste's jewelry, because she also agreed to falsely testify against Celeste. 
In a nutshell, Donna Goodson lied about Celeste so she would not face prison time for stealing Celeste's jewelry.  In 2000, Donna Goodson filed for unemployment benefits against Celeste.  Donna won and received the unemployment compensation payments because the state agreed that all the checks that Celeste wrote to Donna were for her wages as an employee and not a contractor. 

Then in 2003, during Celeste's trial, Donna testified that those same checks were for payment of a hitman.  The defense was not allowed to tell the jury about the unemployment ruling regarding those same checks paid by Celeste.


Forged Checks     Donna Goodson's Warrant

Celeste was arrested on March 28, 2002, when she was on her way to pick up her dogs from their groomer.  She waited in Travis County for a bail hearing that was denied by the court.  From her arrest through the trial, Celeste continuously remained in custody.  Pre-trial began in
October 2002, and she was eventually sentenced to two life sentences on March 20, 2003. 


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