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Survivor of a Fresno double murder talks about the case

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

He's the best friend who survived and now, a 16-year-old boy is telling his story for the first time during the double murder trial against the teenagers charged with killing his friends.

The teenager who testified Tuesday was in the pickup truck when it got hit by a bullet. 19-year-old Jarrad Beard admits to firing that shot. He and his younger brother Jerry are on trial and their attorneys dispute how the whole incident went down. 18-year-old Justin Hesketh and 16-year-old Brandon Moore left their friend behind and ended up shot to death.

The boy was 15 when his friends died last December. He watched them run off, and never saw them again. Now, his testimony about drug use and what started the whole incident could be critical in the murder trial against the brothers who shot his friends.

On a map in court, X marks the spot where attorneys are engaged in the first big battle in the murder trial against Jarrad and Jerry Beard.

There's no question the Beard brothers, plus a third brother and another friend crossed Herndon in front of Justin Hesketh's pickup truck.

There's also no question that Jarrad Beard had a gun and fired a shot that left Hesketh's truck with a flat on the front left tire, but where and when that shot was fired is disputed.

Defense attorneys Scott Baly and Phil Cherney say Hesketh initiated the confrontation by making a U-turn to come back at the beards before Jarrad fired the shot. But the one person who was in the truck and lived to tell his tale says the gunshot came first.

"I was just like 'What was that?' and Justin said they threw something at the truck and then he made a U-turn," said the teenaged survivor.

We're not allowed to show the boy's face or name him, but he says Justin parked the truck by this apartment complex. Justin and Brandon ran after the Beards, while he stayed with the truck.

"What did you think was going to happen?" asked prosecutor Mike Frye

"I mean, get in a fight probably," the boy said.

"Why did you think that?" asked Frye.

"Because they threw something at the truck," he said.

Defense attorneys seized on some inconsistencies in the teen's testimony to boost their case. He originally said the truck's windows were open for their entire, short drive from Herndon and Milburn to Herndon and Polk, but changed his testimony to admit Hesketh rolled down his window as the Beards crossed in front of them. And he denied using drugs on the day his friends died, although he told a police officer that night he had used meth. He testified that she just pestered him into saying it.

"Finally I just told her like, 'Fine.', like 'Yes I did it today,' but because I wanted to go," he said. "I just wanted to, like, move things along so I could go home."

A coroner's report showed Hesketh and Moore had meth in their systems when they were killed. The Beards' trial is expected to last through the end of the month.

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Tags:
crimetracker, shooting, murder, court, fresno, fresno county, local, corin hoggard
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