Daddy's Girl

Gregory Beard says his wife did drugs in front of their child, yet a Harris County associate judge awarded her custody. Beard spent the summer fighting to get his baby back.

On July 20, Associate Judge Michael Hay decided that it didn't matter if Deborah's elder daughter was more spice than sugar and awarded Deborah primary custody of Hallie, giving Greg visits on alternate weekends and two hours every Wednesday.


On Monday, August 27, Gregory testified in Judge Eva Guzman's courtroom that he smelled marijuana in his house every day and that he "begged and threatened" his wife to stop smoking, but she told him that getting stoned wasn't a big deal and everybody did it.

Deron Neblett
Deborah Beard says the whole custody battle was unnecessary.
Deborah Beard says the whole custody battle was unnecessary.

Gregory's attorney, Pat Batton, submitted the used condoms Gregory found in Carolee's bedroom, pictures of his shot-up house and spent bullets she had submitted during the first hearing. She had Gregory relive the morning he came home and found bullet holes in his house. Batton asked Gregory if he and Deborah had a conversation after he filed for divorce where Deborah called him a "pussy" and told him to "act white." She submitted into evidence a microcassette of that discussion.

Gregory said he'd had problems with Deborah's daughter Carolee since day one. She constantly ran away, cursed and threw violent temper tantrums. He said Carolee turned the lock on his gun cabinet with a screwdriver, stole his nine-millimeter pistol and placed it under her pillow. After he discovered it, he purchased the hard-cover case he stored beneath his bed.

Deborah's attorney, Ralph Shepherd, asked Gregory if Carolee's stealing his pistol wasn't an indication that he shouldn't have guns in the house. Shepherd asked Gregory if he promised Deborah he would remove the weapons from their home.

"No," Gregory said. "I didn't."

Shepherd asked Gregory about the night he gave Carolee alcohol. Gregory explained that Carolee ran out of Prozac and was ranting and raving. Before anything got broken, he gave her a splash of Scotch in a glass of Coke to calm her until her mother got home.

Hallie's attorney ad litem, Christine Jonte, asked Gregory, "What would possess you to give a child alcohol?" Gregory had already testified that he knew Carolee was taking prescription medication and suspected she had a drinking problem.

Gregory said it was a mistake he regretted and that he would have to live with. Hallie's attorney asked if Gregory cared about Carolee at all and what kind of a role model he was. She asked if he thought it was a "good idea" to have guns in his house. Gregory said that if they were secure, yes. "I was raised up around them and taught to respect," he said. He testified that his guns were locked in a safe steel case. Jonte pointed out that Gregory had thought the weapons were secure in both the gun cabinet and the gun case yet Carolee was able to get them.

Hallie's attorney asked Gregory if he thought Deborah was a bad mother. And if he didn't condone her doing drugs around Hallie, then why did he allow Deborah to be in the same room with Hallie when she was stoned? Why didn't he think of divorcing Deborah earlier and taking Hallie to a healthier environment? Why did he let Deborah care for Hallie when he went to work?

"You left your child with someone you didn't think was appropriate," Jonte said.

"I didn't have no other choice at the time," Gregory said. But his mother moved in with him and she can baby-sit. Jonte asked Gregory what effect it would have on Hallie to take her mother away. Gregory said he was afraid of that, too.

"I don't want to take her mother away from her all the time," Gregory said (even though he was applying for sole custody). "I just want Deborah and Carolee to get help. I want the drugs to stop."

Deborah walked out of the courtroom and stood by the elevator watching her attorney's briefcase while he used the restroom. She said she really wanted to speak to the Houston Press, but her attorney forbade her.

"It's all unnecessary," she said, echoing her lawyer.

Greg briskly walked out of the bathroom purposely not looking at Deborah. As he turned the corner, Deborah lifted her hands and shrugged like she couldn't understand why he didn't stop and say hello.


Friday morning Deborah testified that she didn't know anything about the shooting until after Gregory kicked her out of the house. She said the night before it happened, she drove her brother home, and when she and Hallie returned, she found Carolee in her bedroom picking up broken glass. Carolee told her she had had a fight with her boyfriend and threw a shoe at him but missed and hit the mirror.

Deborah said she accepted that answer and went to bed without noticing any bullet holes or checking to make sure the boyfriend either went home or slept on the couch. "I was real tired," Deborah said. "I'd had a long day."

The next thing she knew, Gregory woke her up screaming and yelling to get out and she didn't know why. She said he promised her that there were no guns in the house and she believed that the gun case beneath the bed was empty.

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