A plea agreement has been reached by prosecutors and the Twin Cities woman accused of being on drugs, on her cellphone and driving with a revoked license when she ran over and killed a Wayzata police officer on a west metro highway.
Beth I. Freeman, 54, of Mound, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal vehicular homicide and is scheduled to be sentenced in Hennepin County District Court on May 11 before Judge Tamara Garcia.
The two sides have agreed to a term of slightly more than eight years, with roughly two-thirds of that time spent in prison and the balance on supervised release, the County Attorney’s Office said Thursday. In exchange, two related charges would be dropped in connection with the Sept. 8 death of officer William Mathews, 47.
Freeman struck and killed Mathews as he cleared debris on eastbound Hwy. 12. Authorities found drug paraphernalia that tested positive for cocaine in the car Freeman was driving, and she had cocaine in her system.
Search warrant affidavits showed that Freeman admitted at the scene to being a cocaine addict but said she had not used the drug for at least three years before the crash. She also acknowledged taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs at the time, the filings continued.
The charges against Freeman also alleged that she was using her cellphone when she hit the officer.
Freeman has three convictions for drunken driving and another for driving under the influence of illicit drugs. The state revoked her driving privileges at least three times, most recently in October 2016. She also has at least six convictions for drug possession.
At the time of the crash, she was serving three years’ probation for a 2016 drug conviction. Her involvement in the crash violated the terms of her probation and sent her to prison in mid-November to begin serving what had been a stayed 17-month sentence.
Messages were left Thursday with Freeman’s attorney in the crash and the drug conviction.
The car Freeman was driving when she hit the officer belonged to Donald R. Furry, who shared a home with Freeman in Mound. In an interview with the Star Tribune soon after the crash, Furry declined to say whether he knew Freeman did not have a license, nor would he say whether he knew she was using his vehicle that day.
The disclosure of the plea deal came on the same day the state Senate approved a bill designating a portion of Hwy. 12 in Wayzata as the Officer Bill Mathews Memorial Highway.
The measure has a companion bill in the House, which has cleared several committees and is likely to get a floor vote soon.
Mathews graduated from Pine Island High School, near Rochester, and attended Rochester Community College. He earned a degree in law enforcement from Winona State University and worked with the Winona and Rochester police departments before becoming a licensed officer. His first job as an officer was with the Zumbrota Police Department. He joined the Wayzata police force in 2008.
Mathews was survived by his father, Robert Mathews; his wife, Shawn Mathews; and son, Wyatt, who was 7 at the time of the crash.