Guilty plea and 98 months for woman who struck and killed Wayzata officer


The woman who struck and killed Wayzata Police officer William Mathews pleaded guilty and was immediately sentenced to 98 months in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Beth Freeman, 54, of Mound, agreed to plead guilty to criminal vehicular homicide-operating a vehicle with negligence-under the influence of a controlled substance. In return for the guilty plea, another count of criminal vehicular homicide and driving after cancellation, were dropped.

Freeman has five criminal history points for previous felony convictions, which made her recommended sentence under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines the 98 months. It will be served concurrently with her 17 month prison term handed down in November for felony drug possession. She is not related to county attorney Freeman.

During her guilty plea before Hennepin County District Court Judge Tamara Garcia Friday morning, Freeman admitted that in the early afternoon of Sept. 8 she was driving on U.S. Highway 12 in Wayzata and that she had used cocaine a couple days before and there still was cocaine in her system, so her ability to drive was impaired.

Freeman also admitted that she did not see the 47-year-old Wayzata police officer, who was picking up debris on the highway, “until he stood up.” She agreed with Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Thad Tudor’s question that she was driving her car in a negligent manner.

In her victim impact statement, Mathews’ wife, Shawn, filled in the details, saying that Freeman’s inattention to the road meant that when she struck Officer Mathews, she severed his spinal cord, lacerated all of his organs and broke many of his bones.

“The selfish act of getting behind the wheel without a license and (under the influence) was cold and malicious,” Shawn Mathews told the judge. “Bill was taken in the sweet spot of his life.”

The couple’s son Wyatt, who was seven at the time of the accident, was dressed in a specially fitted Wayzata Police officer’s uniform and told Judge Garcia that he can no longer play with his father.

“That makes me feel sad and lonely,” he said. “Her actions changed my life forever.”

Judge Garcia asked all of the police officers in the courtroom to stand and thanked the dozen who did for their service.

“I hold myself accountable for this accident and the heartbreaking results that followed where a good officer in the community lost his life and, most importantly, a wife lost her husband and a son lost his father, ” Freeman said when asked if she wanted to say anything.

After the sentencing, she was taken back to the women’s prison in Shakopee.