Son-in-law of Fort Worth veterinarian head-butted doctor 3 times in fatal attack: warrant

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Dr. Robert Bearden and his son-in-law John Birdwell argued late Friday at Woody’s Tavern in Fort Worth about Birdwell not signing divorce papers for the doctor’s daughter.

The argument ended in tragedy, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

As Bearden stood with his hands to his side while talking to his son-in-law, Birdwell grabbed Bearden by the head and head-butted him three times, according to the warrant obtained Thursday by the Star-Telegram.

The two fell to the floor as Birdwell moved to get on top of the unconscious veterinarian and tried to hit him again, but several patrons moved quickly and pulled Birdwell off, the warrant states.

Birdwell fled the scene while Bearden was rushed to a hospital, where he died Saturday night, authorities said.

The son-in-law of the Fort Worth veterinarian was arrested early Thursday in connection with his death, according to jail records..

Birdwell, 38, was booked into the Tarrant County Jail after he was arrested by deputies with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

Birdwell faces a charge of injury to an elderly person with intent/serious bodily injury, according to jail records. His bond has been set at $75,000.

The warrant written by Fort Worth Detective M. Sones provided these additional details:

The daughter of Dr. Robert Bearden is married to John Birdwell. They are in the process of a divorce and Bearden had been unhappy with Birdwell for stalling the process. The doctor had asked his son-in-law several times to sign the divorce papers.

A witness at Woody’s Tavern told police that the doctor and his son-in-law were arguing about the divorce, but Bearden was not aggressive. At some point, Birdwell violently grabbed Bearden and head-butted him three times, the witness said. The two fell, and Bearden was knocked unconscious and began bleeding from head injuries.

An 18-second video from Woody’s Tavern captured the attack, according to the warrant.

Before Fort Worth police officers arrived, Birdwell started to leave the bar, but another witness attempted to stop him from leaving. Birdwell bit the witness on the chest and left the scene, the warrant states.

When they arrived at Woody’s Tavern, at 4744 Bryant Irvin Road, police found Bearden, who was conscious, but he was bleeding from more than one location on his head. He was disoriented and confused, according to the warrant.

Bearden, 66, died at 7:50 p.m. Saturday at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office website. His cause of death was blunt head trauma and it was a homicide, according to the medical examiner.

Court records do not yet list an attorney for Birdwell.