The motorist charged with striking and killing a Wayzata police officer with her vehicle last week made her first court appearance Tuesday, while funeral arrangements were finalized for the husband and father “who served with utmost dignity and pride,” his widow said.
Beth I. Freeman, 54, of Mound, was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and has been jailed since the collision last Friday. The charges allege that she was using her cellphone and showed signs of being under the influence of drugs when she ran over officer William Mathews as he cleared debris from eastbound Hwy. 12.
Freeman appeared sullen at a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon at the jail, fidgeting as she answered the judge’s questions from behind glass.
Freeman’s attorney didn’t dispute the $500,000 bail requested by prosecutors, but she reserved the right to revisit the issue later. Hennepin County District Judge Tamara Garcia set a follow-up hearing for next month.
Wayzata Police Chief Michael Risvold attended the hearing in full uniform. At a news conference later that day, Risvold read a statement from Mathews’ wife, Shawn, and 7-year-old son, Wyatt, which thanked friends, family and strangers for their support.
“Bill, thank you for enriching our lives, being our comfort and strength. Wyatt and [my] hearts are broken. ... We will miss his smile, his laugh, his hugs and his uncanny ability to fix anything ... Bill, your legacy will live on in our son, Wyatt, we will never forget you. You will always be our hero.”
He then composed himself and spoke about the officer’s popularity.
“If he wasn’t one of the most loved members of our department, he was the most loved member of our department; just a great guy,” Risvold said. “This loss is a terrible loss.”
The Nissan Murano that Freeman was driving despite losing her license for numerous traffic violations belongs to Donald R. Furry, who shares a home with Freeman in Mound.
In a brief interview Tuesday, Furry declined to say whether he knew Freeman did not have a license. He also declined to say whether he knew she was using his vehicle on the day of the crash.
Freeman has three convictions for drunken driving and another for driving under the influence of illicit drugs. The state has taken away her driving privileges at least three times, most recently in October.
Her driving record also includes convictions for aggravated and careless driving, and driving without a license at least twice.
Freeman also has at least six convictions for drug possession. At the time of Friday’s crash, she was serving three years’ probation for a 2016 drug conviction.
Newly filed search warrant affidavits show that Freeman admitted at the scene that she was a cocaine addict but had not used the drug for at least three years.
A search of the SUV turned up inside the center console a homemade smoking pipe with cocaine residue inside it, the filings read. Freeman did acknowledge taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs before the crash, the filings continued.
One witness is referred to in the complaint by the initials T.C. That turns out to be Tyrone Carter, the former University of Minnesota and Vikings football player.
In a video posted on his Twitter account Friday, Carter is heard consoling a distraught Freeman. The complaint quotes Freeman in the video saying, “I just looked up and he was there.”
She then said, “Oh, my God, I’m going to jail.”
Other bystanders are seen near the end of the 38-second video rendering aid to Mathews down on the pavement.
Accompanying his posting, Carter wrote: “God always puts me in certain places to comfort a life in need. God I thx you. Please put ur hands on both lives.”
Mathews’ public funeral is Thursday, with visitation the previous day, both at Wayzata Free Church, 705 Hwy. 101 N. in his hometown of Plymouth.
A procession from the church will escort Mathews to Summit Park Cemetery in Wayzata.