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She Wanted It All

Ann Rule: "'She Wanted It All' is a compelling, detailed, and shocking insider's look at a murderous Southern 'belle.' Kathryn Casey is one of the best true-crime writers today, and she explores the incredible crimes of Celete Beard with a deft and experienced hand. This is a convoluted case that will intrigue fans of the genre immensely. No one can be more devious than a greedy, sociopathic female -- nor anyone more deluded than the heretofore successful men who fall for them. The combination is lethal. This is a 'Do not miss!' book. I was utterly fascinated. A triumph!"

Two-time Edgar Winner Carlton Stowers: "Not only is this a dark and twisted family tale you won't soon forget, but Kathryn Casey's vivid writing and dogged research establish her as one of the very best true crime writers in the business..."

October 2, 1999: Gunfire in an Austin, Texas, mansion. Multimillionaire media executive Steven Beard, 74, is found in bed, critically injured, a shotgun blast to his belly. Suspicion centers on Beard’s young wife, Celeste, a former Austin Country Club waitress, and her friend, Tracey Tarlton. Beard lingers for months, then dies of his injuries in January 2000.

Six days after the shooting, Tarlton, an Austin bookstore manager, is arrested. A shell found at the foot of Beard's bed matches her .20-gauge shotgun. Nearly two years later, in March 2002, in a deal with prosecutors, Tarlton escapes the death penalty when she agrees to plead guilty. She receives a 20-year sentence, in exchange for testifying against Celeste. Tarlton's claims: That she and Celeste Beard were lovers; that Celeste asked her to murder Steven and planned the killing.

Celeste, by then married to Spencer Johnson and living outside Fort Worth, is indicted on capitol murder charges by an Austin grand jury. Her bail: $8 million. Her twin daughters testify against her at a pretrial hearing, saying they believe Celeste and Tarlton were more than friends.

A Second Plot: October 2002. While she sits in a jail cell awaiting trial, prosecutors file new charges against Celeste Beard Johnson, this time for criminal solicitation of capitol murder. Her personal assistant, Donna Rose Goodson, a former beauty parlor receptionist, claims Celeste paid her to hire a hitman to kill Tracey Tarlton. Goodson, who says she never intended to actually look for a hitman, agrees to testify against Beard in exchange for immunity.

The Trial: January 2003. Celeste Beard Johnson hired defense attorney Dick DeGuerin, whose famous clients include NY-heir real estate Robert Durst. Seven fascinating weeks in an Austin courtroom.

The Book: Available at online booksellers and in bookstores across the U.S.