Man accused of 1984 murder on trial

A murder case tied to the infamous 'killing fields' is now underway, as Clyde Hedrick is accused of killing a woman in 1984
March 31, 2014 3:24:52 PM PDT
A murder case tied to the infamous "killing fields" is now underway. Opening statements started this morning in the trial of Clyde Hedrick. He's charged in the 1984 murder of Ellen Beason.

Almost 30 years after the death of Ellen Rae Beason, her accused killer is now on trial. He is the same man who was convicted of the abuse of her corpse in 1985.

Clyde Hedrick, 61, is charged with murder. Beason went missing July 29, 1984. She was last seen at a bar in League City.

A friend who left her with Hedrick that night noticed her car still there the next morning. Investigators say he told them he and Beason went skinny-dipping, that she drowned and he dumped her body.

At the time, the medical examiner ruled Beason's cause of death as undetermined. Hedrick was convicted of abuse of a corpse and served time for it. Prosecutors say after the case was reopened in 2011, experts ruled Beason died of drowning and blunt force trauma to the head.

"He had taken her body, put it under the couch, and when she started moving, he took a table leg and crushed her skull," Assistant District Attorney Kevin Petroff said.

Hedrick avoided eye contact with witnesses and often rocked back and forth in his chair as the jury listened to shocking testimony from his former married lover, Candi Guifford. She is a key witness who led police to Beason's remains, which were dumped under debris off a dirt road in Galveston County.

Prosecutors asked, "Did he say what would happen if you did tell?"

Guifford tearfully answered, "He said we could be put there too. I just didn't know what he might do. I was in fear for my children and my family."

Prosecutors say an inmate also will testify Hedrick admitted during his time in prison that he killed Beason.

"At the end of this case, at the end of the evidence, we will ask you to follow that evidence and give justice for Ellen Beason at the end of this trial, to find this defendant guilty of the crime that he committed in July 1984 -- the offense of murder," prosecutor Kevin Petroff told the jury.

Hedrick's attorney Jeremy DuCote says, though, that there is no new evidence and that if the jury uses common sense, Hedrick should be found not guilty. He warned the jury that the witness had other motives.

"The state's going to try to characterize that as all of a sudden she just felt such remorse, that she just needed to do the right thing. You're going to hear from people she spoke with. Candi was just pissed," DuCote said.

Prosecutors say they plan to introduce a mountain of other evidence at trial, including information about his alleged involvement in the now notorious "killing field murders" of Laura Miller in 1984 and Heidi Fye in 1983. Miller is the daughter of Texas Equsearch founder Tim Miller, are watching this trial very closely. Both of those victims' families are watching this trial very closely and are already calling the trial very emotional.

If convicted, Hedrick could be sent to prison for life.

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