Marriage, Money and Murder: Steven and Celeste Beard
Meanwhile, against long odds Steven Beard seemed to begin a gradual recovery.
His assailant had taken poor aim in the darkened bedroom: His brain and heart were spared, although his digestive organs were decimated.
His condition stabilized after a series of seven surgeries, and the immediate threat to his life seemed to pass.
He was eventually released from the hospital, although he was considered to be at continued risk of infection due to the nature of his wound.
Shotgun wounds to the midsection can kill slowly.
When the digestive tract is perforated, the leakage can prove deadly through any number of infections, including peritonitis or bacterial sepsis in the blood.
Beard was treated with antibiotics to head off infection, and his recovery seemed to be on course when he was released from the hospital on Jan. 21, 2000. He died four days later.
By some accounts, Celeste Beard was a vigilant and loving wife in her husband's final months. Friends said she spent countless hours at Steven's side.
Yet there is indisputable evidence that she managed to console herself with a favorite pastime: shopping.
Beard's accountant would later reveal that Celeste spent $321,000 during October and November 1999; an additional $249,000 by Dec. 10, and another $100,000 in the six weeks ending March 31, 2000.