It took the jury less than an hour to decide the punishment for Clyde Hedrick. The victim's brother told me the maximum prison sentence is justice for their family.
There was some emotional reaction from concerned community members and a grieving family moments after a jury determined Hedrick, 61, would spend the next 20 years in prison for his role in the death of Ellen Rae Simpson Beason. I spoke with the victim's brother, Ross, about the sentence.
"I'm so glad that the jury saw him for what he really is and was able to give him the max," Ross Simpson said. "I had that feeling in my heart, and really now we can put Ellen to rest."
During his trial last week, Hedrick was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for Beason's 1984 killing. Medical experts determined the woman was killed with a deadly weapon, before investigators say Hedrick dumped Beason's body along a dirt road in Galveston County.
Hedrick's wife, Gladys, was among those family members upset the jury was allowed to consider a prior felony conviction to double the punishment for the crime.
"Clyde didn't kill that woman," she said. "Clyde is a gentle good man."
Also watching the trial closely were the families of murder victims Heidi Fye Villareal and Laura Miller, the daughter of Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller. They say investigators have reason to believe Hedrick was responsible for those "killing field" cold cases. But prosecutors weren't allowed to introduce any of that evidence during this trial.
Tim Miller says this isn't over yet.
"We've got Clyde locked up now, but he can anticipate just any day receiving notice that I've filed a wrongful death suit for the murder of Laura Lynn Miller in 1984," he said.
All sides are due back in court Tuesday morning, when Beason's family is expected to give a victim impact statement.
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