Betty Lou Beets

I stated a while back that I had recently began reading books on my phone as opposed to my Nook and it may have created a monster.  Although I love my Nook and I would carry it with me when I absolutely knew I would have some down time to read but otherwise it would lay next to my bed as I read every night before I go to sleep.  Now with the phone since I carry it with me everywhere I have the opportunity to read even when I only have a few minutes to spare and I have been taking those opportunities.  So the latest book that I have read, or finishing up, is Buried Memories by Irene Pence.  I had previously read her book about John Battaglia, the man who murdered his two daughters while his ex wife was forced to listen on the telephone, and truly enjoyed her writing so when I was able to come across another of her books I jumped on it.  I can say that I have not been disappointed.  In fact, after now sitting in front of my computer to research this case more I have realized how more accurate it seems that her book is and that much of the information that I have found online concerning this case (and there has been a lot) seems to contradict itself, as well as so much other information that is out that.  As much as I hate to so heavily rely on a source, sometimes I am forced to do just that.  

There is a lot of information about Betty Beets for a few reasons.  For one, when she was executed in 2000 she was only the 4th woman in the United States to be executed since the death penalty had been reinstated in 1976 (not until 1982 for Texas). She was also executed at a time in which most of the rest of the country joked that Texas had an "express lane" to the execution chamber.  By 2000 Betty was the 208th person Texas had executed since 1982 AND the then Governor (future President) George Bush was in office for over a hundred of them.  By February 24th when she was executed, she was the 9th in Texas that year alone and in fact there had been an execution just the day before. While it seems all executions have their protesters, it always seems to be more and a bigger deal made when it is a woman.  Her supporters would claim that Betty suffered from "Battered Woman's Syndrome," something Betty herself claimed to have never heard of before then.  It appeared to give her a platform to stand on.  Her motto became "What my husband started, Texas will finish."

Let me be very clear here.  I do believe in Battered Woman's Syndrome and I do believe there are the cases out there in which a battered woman had taken all that she could and if you want to say she snapped then ok, but I prefer to see it as preserving her own life when hers is in danger. That being said, I do believe that throughout her life Betty had been with some men who were abusive in some manner.  However, in the case for which she was convicted of, the murder of her husband, Jimmy Don Beets I absolutely do not believe that to be the case, so her cries of abuse fall on my deaf ears. As far as the case that she was indicted for, the murder of another husband, Doyle Wayne Baker, I am less certain of his abuse of her but in the same respect there was clear information that she premeditated his killing also.  She was never tried for Baker's murder because it seems the state did not see the need to try her since she was convicted and sentenced to death for Beets' murder.  Here once again I have gotten ahead of myself in telling the story, let's see what you think after hearing the story.

Betty Lou Dunevant had been born into a poor family.  When she was a young child she had developed the measles which led to hearing loss that required her to wear a hearing aid at an early age and cause her much anxiety.  Besides her parents, James and Margaret she had an older brother and another brother and sister, both of who were younger than she. When Betty was 12 it was said that her mother was institutionalized after having a breakdown.  I am going to assume that since this is one of the "facts" that seem consistent in my research that this is true, and most everything says basically that it was something that seemed to simply come on and no one had noticed anything before she was hospitalized.  My point is that this was the early 1960's and being institutionalized was something that still occurred more often than we see today and I cannot guarantee the extent of her mother's illness.  I can say that it was not a lifetime issue as it appears that she was released and went on to live a normal existence and life.  At any rate it is widely reported that due to her mother's hospitalization Betty had been in charge of taking care of the household, including her younger siblings.  When she was fifteen Betty would marry the first of her five husbands, and six marriages.  

Betty's first husband was Robert Branson.  They would be married nearly 18 years and have six children together.  Before her execution Betty will claim that she was abuse by ALL of her husbands.  However, while there is evidence of some abuse by some of the husbands, it does not seem that all were abusive.  Her claims of abuse from Branson was one of her late accusations. To be fair, this was a time period in which spousal abuse was not talked about often and when people "minded their own business."  People did not worry what went on behind closed doors.  To add to this I will be the first to admit that I believe in every break up situation there are three sides to a story.  Each party has their version and somewhere in the middle is the truth.  For his part, and apparently there is some validity to his claims, Betty all but had a personality change.  She was not as attentive to him or the children and she began going "out" more often and not being home as much.  Robert would claim that he had finally had enough and had decided to divorce her. For her part Betty, who again made late claims of abuse, would say that she had been blindsided by Robert's request for a divorce and claims that he had been unfaithful to her.  The latter does not seem like a far stretch considering the time period as well as the fact that apparently Robert did seemingly remarry fairly quickly.  Betty would forever blame her divorce on her dependence on alcohol that plagued her (there were some drugs mixed in too).  Most reports say she sent all of her children to live with their father, or other relatives except for her youngest, Bobby, who was three at the time.

I need to stop here for a second to clarify something that seems to not only be confusing but gets more confused as people fail to understand.  Of Betty's six children she had four girls and two boys.  The oldest was Robert Jr.... he was known as "Robby."  The youngest was Bobby (apparently this was his actual name and not a nickname as far as I can tell).  Now, of course there are the obvious reasons why the name is often confused but there are other reasons also.  As you will hear later in the story Betty requested the help of Robby in the concealment of Jimmy Don's body so he played a huge role in this saga.  Robby in fact remained living with his dad from the age of 8 until 18 before moving in with Betty.  Bobby on the other hand always lived with Betty and remained an ardent supporter of hers.  Bobby however died in 1994 (some say 1993) so when Betty was executed in 2000 she had five living children.  So adding to the fact that their names were similar, and Bobby would seem to be a shortened name for Robert, yet their was a Robert nicknamed Robby, and the fact that Bobby would die before Betty's story would end and some supporters were late players you will often see things that say "Bobby" was the one who would help her after she murdered Jimmy Don and then later testified against her, when in fact it was Robby who did so.

Within a few years of her divorce Betty was on the move.  She then married a man named Billy Lane.  He would be her second.... and third husband.  Both marriages were extremely shorts (lasting months or weeks).  After their first divorce, or was it just before, they had an argument and Betty shot Billy.  Whether it was in his stomach or head is up for debate since I have found lots of conflicting reports.  Now, by most accounts, even Billy's it seems this in fact was an abusive relationship.  Although I have to wonder if it was not on both sides and Betty's role is downplayed.  However, Betty had been charged with shooting Billy but the charged were lowered to a misdemeanor charge and little was done.  In fact, Billy had apparently admitted he had not helped the situation (maybe even admitted abuse) and had asked charges be dropped.  In turn they remarried, only to separate just a few weeks later and divorce again.

Betty's next husband was Ronnie Threlkold who she married in 1978, just about 5 or 6 years after her second divorce from Billy Lane.  Again, Betty would later accuse him of abuse while why they separated after less than two months of marriage when Betty attempted to run him over with her car.  Unlike Billy Lane, apparently Ronnie was smart enough to not give her a second chance to possibly succeed.  So of course they divorced.

Soon after Betty met and married Doyle Wayne Barker.  Now, even early on both Betty and her children (at least those who had met him because not all had) would claim he was abusive to her.  Others seem to admit that he was "wild" but fall short of admitting their belief that he would have been abusive to Betty.  Together Betty would buy a piece of land and Ronnie would buy a trailer to put on the land in a place called Gun Barrel City Texas, about an hour southeast of Dallas.  Once again this marriage did not last really more than a few months it seems.  But this time Betty had different plans.  Apparently divorce was not an option this time.  In October of 1981 Betty visited her grown daughter, Shirley and told her that she intended to kill Barker.  According to Shirley, although she knew Barker was abusive she encouraged her mom to do as she had always done, get a divorce.  Betty told Shirley that was not an option because Barker's name was on her trailer and she would lose it and have no where to live.  On the following day, while her son Bobby was at his sister Shirley's home, it is said that while he was sleeping Betty shot him in the bedroom with her .38 caliber pistol.  She then rolled him up in a blanket, placed his body in a sleeping bag and somehow had gotten it in the closet.  Shirley would claim that sometime before her mother murdered Barker she had convinced a construction crew that was working in the area to dig a hole in her backyard.  After the murder Betty enlisted Shirley's help in putting Barker's body in the hole and covering it up.  Betty would tell Barkers friends, family and employer that they had an argument and that he had simply left.  Few it seems wondered how he had done that since a truck that he apparently had bought recently still sat in the driveway.  Most people it seems knew that the marriage was crumbling and did not seem to find it odd that Barker took off. It seems Betty got away with it.

Soon after Barker disappeared Betty met Jimmy Don Beets.  This was her sixth marriage (fifth husband) and was his fourth.  By all accounts Jimmy Don was crazy about her and would and did just about anything she wanted.  While Betty had her six children, two living with her by then (Bobby and Robby), Jimmy Don had one son, Jamie, who was already grown and out of the house.  Just as all of her other relationships progressed quickly, so did this one and soon Jimmy Don was living with Betty in her trailer and they were married. Jimmy Don was not like most of Betty's marriages or relationships.  I cannot say much bad about Robert Branson, her first husband, but the succession of men and marriages between Robert and Jimmy Don seemed to be riddled with unstableness (is that a word??). For his part, Jimmy Don was a fire chief in Dallas, was very popular among his neighbors and known to be very hospitable to everyone he met.  Despite seeing their friend appear to be extremely happy with Betty, many of his friends were turned off by her.  In fact, Jimmy Don's son, Jamie had never gotten along with Betty.  Some say the reason for that was that Jamie, for his part was not stable himself and had his own issues, while others claim that it was Betty pulling the purse strings so to say with Jimmy Don and caused more issues between father and son.  

On August 6, 1983 Betty would report Jimmy Don missing.  A few days later his boat was found.  For friends and family it was more what was not found inside the boat than what was that made them suspicious.  The cap to the engine had been removed but more importantly his glasses as well as his heart medicine (nitro) was scattered inside.  Betty would claim that on the night of August 5th Jimmy Don had gone fishing only to not come back.  For the next three weeks while rumors swarmed, volunteers dragged the nearby lake.  Nothing was found.  In the meantime friends were voicing their suspicions about Betty.  For one she did not seem to be overly upset.  The fire departments chaplain would claim that three days after Jimmy Don had supposedly "disappeared," Betty was asking him about life insurance and pensions.  She was also soon taking control of the house that Jimmy Don owned prior to their marriage.  It was reported that she seemed to be devastated that by Texas law when a body was not recovered the general rule was that the person had to be missing for 7 years before they could be declared dead to receive any life insurance benefits.  That apparently only slowed her down a bit.  Within a few weeks she had sold Jimmy Don's boat, forging a Power of Attorney and bill of sales slip.  She later tried to sell his other house but when Jimmy Don's son discovered it he contacted an attorney who would put a hold on Betty selling off Jimmy Don's assets.  The For Sale sign left the yard but mysteriously (maybe not so mysteriously since a neighbor claimed to see Betty in the house) soon after the home would catch fire.  It would be ruled as arson.

Friends and family were openly discussing the strange situation.  Jimmy Don had had a heart attack about five years before and he did have a prescription for nitroglycerin but by all accounts he had not taken any for about two years and was not in the habit of carrying them with him.  The condition of the boat seemed to be made to look as if he had had engine trouble, then possibly over the stress of that attempted to take a nitro pill but must have fallen overboard.  Jimmy Don was known to be very mechanically inclined and few doubted that a little engine trouble would have upset him, especially since he always carried a toolbox with him on the boat.  All would claim that Jimmy Don was meticulous about certain things when it came to his boat and his trips out on the water.  One of the big things was he would always empty his pockets and place them on a shelf along with a CB radio and when night fishing, as Betty had claimed, carried  flashlight.  None of these things were found in the boat.  

For the next two years these rumors would go around and around but nothing could be proven.  Meanwhile, Betty had moved on in the love department.  Her latest boyfriend was an ex-con named Ray Bone.   Then again having the boyfriend did not stop her from picking up and leaving with patrons of the bar that she waitressed at. By early 1985 one of those men she picked up was friends with Ray Bone and had told him not only of their encounter, but also a story that Betty had told him.  Later when Bone was picked up for one of his many infractions, the sheriff brought him in to talk and he related the story he had heard.  By this time the case into Jimmy Don's disappearance had gone cold but was about to heat up again.  Bone told the sheriff that according to his friend Betty had told him that she had not one... but two husband's buried on her property.  Jimmy Don was supposedly in the "wishing well" she had him build for her shortly before she murdered him.

Of course the investigators were not going to go solely on the word of an ex-con who was looking for some leniency in his own case so they began talking to people.  In the end it seems that some of Betty's children had the best information.  It seemed that at least three of her children knew of some of her crimes.  Bone had agreed to keep in touch with the sheriff and he apparently did so.  It seems that not long after they made this agreement Betty's trailer had caught fire and she and Bone went to stay with relatives in another area. Investigators first made their way to Betty's daughter, Phyllis.  They had been informed that she had told a friend some things about her mother.  Phyllis, who apparently had her own issues with drugs and alcohol herself, seemed a bit reluctant to cooperate with the police but her information led them to her sister, Shirley and brother Robby. By the time it was all over, investigators had what they believed the story of not only what happened to Jimmy Don Beets, but also Doyle Barker. And, they believed they knew where to find their bodies. They would take a search warrant to Betty's trailer (although she was not technically living there at the time because of the fire) and inside they found many guns, including a .38 caliber pistol.  Then they started on the yard.  First they dug at the wishing well.  Not only was it a rather nice construction it looked as if Betty had been tending regularly at the flowers planted around it.  It did not take long before they found a blue sleeping bag.  Inside were the bones of Jimmy Don Beets.  Next they moved to demolishing a shed that Jimmy Don had told people Betty had insisted be built at that particular area.  Many thought it was odd because there were plenty of other places to build the shed but to put it in this particular area meant moving the gas tank and just seemed to be a lot more trouble than needed. Investigators now thought they knew why Betty had insisted on this particular area.  As the shed was removed they almost immediately noticed an area in the center which seemed sunken in.  Once again they began digging, and once again they found a sleeping bag that contained human bones.  Each sleeping bag also contained a spent .38 caliber casing.

Ray Bone had kept up his end of the bargain and had informed the sheriff the route he and Betty were taking back to the area on June 8, 1985.  Authorities were contacted and the couple was pulled over in Ray's truck.  Both were handcuffed but Ray was soon released. Betty on the other hand was arrested and charged with "murder for remuneration."  This was a charge I personally had never heard of, which is not necessarily unusual considering different states have different laws and names to go with them.  However, remuneration basically meant that one receives "compensation" for "work" or "services."  Most often people think of this as a charge that a hired hit man would receive but the district attorney was confident it was the correct charge seeing as her ultimate goal was insurance money as well as a spousal life time pension benefit.  Betty was indicted for both murders but would ultimately only face trial for the murder of Jimmy Don.  It was said that seeing as she was convicted and received the death penalty there was no need to waste time and money on the other charge.  It is my opinion, although I found nothing that stated this for certain, that she went to trial for Jimmy Don's murder first because he had been so well liked in the community, even by her own children, and there were no accusations of abuse (at least not yet) or proof that he had been anything but good to her.

So what did they have when it came to Jimmy Don's murder?  Well, just as her daughter Shirley would claim that she had been told the night before her mother planned to murder Doyle Barker and she would be forced to help conceal the body, when it came to Jimmy Don it appears she had done the same to her son Robby.  Robby would tell a jury that on the evening of August 5, 1983 his mother had told him that she planned to kill Jimmy Don. He would claim that up to this point he did not know about the killing of Doyle Barker, his mother's former husband, that he had never met.  Robby, like Shirley says she had in the past, said that he tried to talk his mother out of it to no avail.  Robby stated that Betty asked him to leave the home for about an hour, taking his brother Bobby with him and ensure they stayed away and that when he returned to come back alone.  He would claim that he did as he was told and when he returned Jimmy Don's body was laying in the bedroom.  He had been shot twice, once in the chest and once in the head.  He then helped his mother finish wrapping the body and taking it outside and placing it in the well.  He said, after not sleeping very much during the night he awoke very early to see his mother putting out soil and flowers around the wishing well.  He said then his mother told him that she had prepared Jimmy Don's boat and wanted him to take it to a particular place on the lake near a bridge in which she would pick him up.  Again, he claimed to do as he was told after his mother informed him that she planned to file a missing person's report but needed the boat gone to enhance her story.  

Betty would retain attorney E. Ray Andrews as her defense attorney and her trial would be only a month after her arrest.  The theory behind it was that Andrews had intended to delay the trial but was unable to get Betty's bond reduce so it was decided to go ahead with the trial. Some argue that a change of venue should have been had but Andrews, although he had (and would have future issues) issues of his own was well known and although maybe not super respected in the area, he had been known to be a charmer and was well liked. Betty's defense would be that she had not murdered Jimmy Don but that Robby had done so and she had helped him, rather than the other way around because she was protecting her child, as any mother would do.  Initially there was to be no mention of Doyle Barker at this trial but the defense in fact had opened the door to that issue, to which allowed that evidence to also be entered, although since she was not charged with his murder when she testified in her own defense little was mentioned about him.  For the prosecutions part they only thing they really wanted the jury to understand was that it was believed that the same weapon had been used on both victims, and that weapon belonged to Betty Beets.  While apparently there was no evidence that Robby had lied to authorities (although anything is possible if he was in the business of saving his own hide) the prosecution wanted to point out that A) Robby was not living with Betty when Doyle Barker was murdered; B) He had never met Barker and C) it would have been a total coincidence knowing these things that he had used the same gun that was used to kill Barker to also kill Jimmy Don.  The defense would harp on issues that Robby had had in the past. The only run in with the law that Robby had E. Ray Andrews knew about all too well considering he had been his attorney. Robby and a friend had broken into a house about a year prior to the murder and had stolen a few things.  Robby had received probation for the misdemeanor violation. Andrews would not harp on that as much as he would the fact that a few weeks before the murder Jimmy Don and Betty had taken Bobby with them to visit her family while Robby stayed at home. They had returned to find Bobby's new motorcycle had been crashed, Jimmy Don's boat had been hot wired, and general disarray of the house.  Betty was known to be meticulous about her home so she of course was upset at the mess she returned to and Jimmy Don was none too happy about his boat.  According to Robby though while there was tension in the house for a few days at least, things had cooled down by the time of the murder and in fact he and Jimmy Don had gotten along well.  They even did the wishing well together.  No one seemed to be claiming that Robby had any issue with Jimmy Don except for Betty and her lawyer. When they did not seem to get super far with that it seems that the defense would cast doubt on just about anyone they could as long as it took some focus away from Betty.  

It was at her trial that it was first hinted that Betty had been abused by her father as a child. At the time of her trial it seems she insisted that there was not sexual abuse involved but she would change that later on after her conviction it seems.  Betty had little to say when it came to Barker's murder, although her daughter Shirley had testified since at the time she too was being charged (I will go more into Shirley later), but she steadfastly expressed through her trial that she had not murdered Jimmy Don.  Shirley would testify that her mother had called her just after the murder of Jimmy Don and that when asked why since he was so nice to her mother, Betty had responded that sooner or later he would have abused her because they always seemed to.  At least that was what she was projecting. According to Pence's book Buried Memories, at least two of her children, Faye and Bobby, claimed to have things such as pictures of a bruised Betty (presumably by either Barker or Beets), and other evidence to prove her innocence but never seemed to actually come up with the physical evidence. 

I have to be honest and say that I am unsure if Jimmy Don's niece actually testified at Betty's trial or not but she had an interesting story to tell.  She worked for an insurance company and a few months before Jimmy Don went missing a life insurance policy had come across her desk.  The policy was on Jimmy Don.  The beneficiary of the policy was Betty, which was not unusual, but the address of where the premium receipts were to be sent was.  She knew this was not her uncles address.  She contacted Jimmy Don who informed her he had no idea about such a policy and it appeared that the address given belonged to Betty's daughter, Faye.  His niece took the policy to him, with a copy, so he could see it.  He officially cancelled the policy and it was said that he confront Betty about it later, who seemingly played dumb about it.  What we do know is that Betty had sold Jimmy Don's boat and the woman who bought it did testify saying that Betty had shown her a Power of Attorney, written on a simple piece of paper, as well as signed the bill of sales and turned over the title to the boat.  Experts would testify that it was Betty's handwriting on both the bill of sale of the boat, as well as the previously mentioned insurance policy.  When asked about this on the stand Betty would claim that she often signed Jimmy Don's name to things and that he had no issue with it when he was alive.  However, of course it all still seemed fishy.  First off, in case you were unaware, a Power of Attorney, "dies" with the person.  So, although Betty had only reported him as missing she had done so in a way so people presumed he had died in the lake so the Power of Attorney would have meant nothing.  Secondly, if we were to believe that she did not know he was dead, as she would sometimes claim, then why would she have sold Jimmy Don's prize possession?  This all just added to the "mystery" of how she had done these things yet claim she was not involved.

In the end the jury obviously thought she was guilty and three days after her conviction they recommended the death penalty.  As is customary there was an automatic appeal of the verdict.  The prosecutor was confident that that conviction would stand not just because he believed in Betty's guilty but because in his answer to his appeal he had relied heavily on a former Texas case.  The defense was arguing in their appeal that the charge of "murder for remuneration" was improper based on the fact that in essence it was a "payment" for services.  In his response to the appeal the prosecutor cited the case of Ronald Clark O'Bryan.  O'Bryan had been convicted in 1975 for the murder of his 8 year old son and the attempted murder of his daughter (and two other children) in order to cash in on life insurance.  O'Bryan, like Betty Beets was sentenced to death.  Throughout the years of his appeals apparently his attorney's also used the argument that Betty's attorney's were now using so knowing that O'Bryan's had failed he expected the same, especially when he used the same arguments as the state had in his case. O'Bryan was executed in 1984. The prosecutor was surprised to learn that instead of upholding the conviction and sentence the appeals court had overturned Betty's case saying that the insurance benefits and pension she expected to receive was not the same as remuneration.  The prosecutor was less surprised at the verdict when he learned one of the Justices, Marvin Teague had in fact been one of O'Bryan's attorneys.  In what would seem to be a useless point to most, the prosecutor appealed that ruling and in essence asked the same panel to look over the case again, and review their verdict.  In a rare occurrence this actually worked for the prosecutor and the appeals court reversed their own decision and allowed the conviction and verdict to stand.

We all know that appeals, especially involving death sentences can take decades to resolve and Betty's case was no different.  We also know that inevitably there are going to be people on both sides of the issue with opinions.  It was during this time, while Betty was in the appeals process and having one date with the death chamber delayed after another, that there was more and more talk about the reported abuse she suffered.  She was now saying that Jimmy Don had also abused her.  Near the end she would all but stop blaming her children for the murders but would say she had no memory of what occurred but she was "certain" she would not have murdered these men without provocation.  She would also take this opportunity to find any excuse she could to explain things, as long as it prevented her from taking responsibility and of course the anti-death penalty advocates and her supporters (many of them her children) were only willing to help.  By now, practically every man in her life, from her father, to every husband or boyfriend had abused her.  She was also blaming the "surprise" failure of her first marriage on her dependence on drugs and alcohol later.  This of course caused her to choose the "horrible" men she chose to share her life with.  She was nothing more than a poor abused woman who earned the nickname "Death Row Granny."  

Was Betty abused by her father? I cannot say but my gut says that she was not anymore or less disciplined than anyone else in those days. You have to remember that by the time the 62 year old woman met with the gurney for her lethal injection in 2000 the idea of parental discipline had changed quite a bit.  Was she spanked as a child?  More than likely because that is how things were.  I do not believe that there was any evidence that she was sexually abused by her father, or any other family members as there were late claims.  As I have said previously I tend to believe that at least one, maybe more of her husbands were physically abusive to her in some way.  In the same respect I am unsure she did not give as much as she got... let's not forget that aside from the two husbands that were buried in her yard she had shot another and tried to run another over with her car.  This is in no way condoning abuse from any side but from the outside it looks like Betty took care of things in her own way.  Add to this, although many women do go through a cycle of picking the "wrong man" and finding abusive men Betty was always quick to get away.  Aside from her first marriage that lasted nearly 18 years none of her others lasted more than a year, and sometimes a mere months or weeks.  She was not one of those women in that era that stayed regardless of the situation and simply put up with the abuse. However, in my opinion, none of that matters.  There was absolutely no evidence from anyone, including her children (at least initially) that Jimmy Don Beets ever laid a hand on Betty.  There was never even any evidence they even ever argued.  Betty told her daughter she was sure Jimmy Don would eventually abuse her because they always did.  Justification for murder are few and far between and murdering someone for something they MIGHT do in the future is not one of them.  This is why I believe the prosecution tried her for his murder first.  While both murders seemed to be almost identical, both in the planning and the carrying out, there were more questions as to whether Doyle Barker had been abusive.  Betty was justifiably convicted and accordingly sentenced to death in my opinion.  

As I often do when I am researching a case I will search some of the other characters in the story.  I had a little difficulty determining when exactly Betty's son, Bobby had died and in my search I ran a few other names of her children. I could never determine if either her son Robby, or her daughter Shirley (who had been charged for concealing the death of Barker) ever faced jail time for helping their mother.  I found nothing at all on Robby but I did find Shirley.  I found a site where arrest records and mugshots are held.  I know this is the same Shirley because I compared the pictures there to pictures I have found of her during the situation with Betty.  Betty's attorney, as well as Shirley's siblings that supported their mother, had brought up Shirley's issues with drugs and alcohol throughout her life, well up until the trial in 1985.  Well apparently Shirley has still not fared well.  She has had multiple arrests over the years generally for public intoxication and driving under the influence.  I counted five arrests between 2003 and 2008.  Hopefully one day she can get her life together, but one can hardly wonder why she has not.... although, just as I have said about her mother using excuses, I do not believe she should have one either. 

Then there was E. (Earl) Ray Andrews, now he was an interesting character.  If there was ever a reason to possibly question Betty's trial or representation, he was the answer.  It seems that Andrews got away with and as far as he did because he must have possessed charisma out the wahzoo!  Even during the time of her trial he was known to be an alcoholic and prone to mistakes but yet everyone seemed to love him.  In fact, in 1992 he became the Henderson County Texas district attorney.  He served in that role until 1994 when he was caught offering a defendant to drop murder charges against him for a sum of money.  Eventually he resigned his law license and received a 3.5 year jail sentence for misconduct by a public official.  From what I read the last known about him was he was out of jail but obviously no longer an attorney and living among friends and relatives as he was penniless.  

Often you hear me talk about the legal ramifications of a case regardless of a defendants guilt or innocence.  This case had a few.  It is one of the few cases in which I question whether she had an adequate defense attorney considering all of Andrews issues. However, the investigation not only seemed clean, it appeared to be done well.  I have also said in the past when I speak of death penalty cases that while I am neither an advocate for against it, I think it should only be utilized when there is no question as to the guilt of the person.  For me this is one of those cases in which that was satisfactorily answered.  I fully believe that it is clear that Betty Lou Beets was guilty of murdering Jimmy Don Beets.  I also fully believe she was guilty of killing Doyle Barker (although she was never tried for him).  There is just no way that two husbands were shot with the same weapon, two years apart and buried in her yard and she was not responsible. 


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