Mother embraces family of her son's killer

Keith Wayne Johnson

 

Monica Barron said her son wasn’t perfect — a heavy- set scrapper with wide shoulders and powerful arms.

But as she awaited the fate of her son’s killer outside Judge Layne Walker’s 252nd District Court in Beaumont on Monday, Sept. 30, Barron said her son Beau Edward Barron didn’t deserve to be gunned down as he sat defenseless in his car in the 2500 block of Campbell Street in February 2012.

The youngster who killed Beau, 19-year-old Keith Wayne Johnson, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury May 17, 2012 and pleaded guilty to murdering Beau and a female victim Sept. 30.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, police responded to Campbell Street about 4 a.m. to find Beau and Amanda Hope Rierson bleeding inside their vehicle. Both had several gunshot wounds to the body and were declared deceased on the scene. Johnson’s girlfriend was at the scene at the time of the shooting and told police John-son killed Beau and Amanda. Johnson later admitted to the shooting, according to the probable cause affidavit.

“It was an execution,” Monica said. “They never got out.”

Nine months later, Monica would lose her daughter under virtually identical circumstances and, in a horrid twist of fate another few months later, her husband would also die.

“He died of a massive heart attack at our house,” Monica said of her late husband. “We were there. After they were murdered, he couldn’t take it no more.”

But as she sat outside Judge Layne Walker’s court- room, Monica seemed stead-fast, ready to move on with her life past the pain and loss she’s suffered at the hands of those who killed her loved ones. In a rare display of compassion and forgiveness, Monica entered Walker’s courtroom and approached the family of the man who killed her son, offering them her prayers and a heartfelt and touching display of forgiveness and reconciliation.

“I feel sorry for his family. I would rather be on the end of having my child murdered than him being the murderer. I can say that. I can’t imagine what they’re going through,” Monica said. “He killed somebody. It’s hard enough being on this end, but I think 20 years with-out parole, I’ll be in my 70s, but he’ll have to get out and try to make a life after that. He’ll have no education. His hell has just begun. Mine is over. Today I can put that to rest knowing that he’ll do the time, and I don’t ever have to see him again.”

But many questions in the murder case may go unanswered with Johnson’s guilty plea, including why Johnson really opened fire on Beau and Amanda.

“It was a drug deal gone bad,” said prosecutor Perry Thomas, who prosecuted Johnson and helped to elicit his guilty plea. “I believe that Mr. Johnson might have believed he was about to be robbed or shot at, so he shot first. That was kind of his attitude.”

After losing a daughter and her husband after Beau’s murder, Thomas said he hoped Monica can move on.

“That’s the part that I can’t imagine — the pain these victims go through and these families go through. Particularly Mrs. Barron to have lost her daughter in Orange County in a very similar manner, it’s just shocking,” Thomas said. “With this, maybe she’ll have some closure and be able to heal a little bit.”

Monica said she’ll remember the father of three’s protective and loving attitude toward family and friends the most.

“He loved to fight. He wasn’t totally passive, but he had a beautiful heart and soul,” Monica said. “He loved his children with all his heart.”

Johnson was sentenced to 40 years for the murders by Judge Layne Walker on Mon- day, Sept. 30. He will be eligible for parole some time in the year 2033.

After 24 years as a prosecutor, Thomas said Monica’s display of forgiveness to John- son’s family is rare.

“It was touching,” Thomas said. “Her act of forgiveness was just unbelievable.” 

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