A Douglas County Court judge on Friday ordered an Omaha mom to stand trial on charges that she set her boyfriend on fire, then let two of her children take the fall for her.
Tanesha L. Beard, 30, is charged with first-degree arson, first-degree assault and four counts of child abuse in connection with a March 23 fire that critically injured Jermaine Westbrook, 37.
In court on Friday, fire investigators said Westbrook was in fair condition at a Lincoln-area hospital after he suffered burns over most of his body.
The day of the fire, Westbrook and Beard were at a family bar until about 2 a.m., said Battalion Capt. John McCormick, who heads up Omaha's fire investigation bureau.
Westbrook, speaking to investigators from his hospital bed, recounted that the two had a good evening.
After the bar closed, McCormick testified, the two went out for breakfast, then to the home they shared at 13519 Atwood Ave.
While Westbrook slept, Beard was captured on surveillance video at 4:15 a.m. purchasing a gas can and one gallon of gas from a nearby gas station.
Back at the house, Beard's four children, ages 12, 10, 9 and 6, sat in a car as the fire was set, McCormick said. One of Beard's daughters later told investigators that her mother told the children she set the fire when she joined them in the car, McCormick said.
Westbrook told investigators he was awoken by smoke about 4:30 a.m.
The kids likely heard Westbrook screaming for help from the second floor bathroom window, McCormick said.
In the hours after the fire, Beard's two oldest children confessed to the fire and were arrested. A few days later, the children were released to family members and Beard was jailed in connection with the fire.
Beard's friends have said the arson was motivated by years of domestic abuse.
A judge determined Friday that there was enough evidence to send Beard's case to District Court for trial. Beard remains in jail on $30,000 bail.