Kathryn Elyse Beard was convicted of Driving While Intoxicated on September 21, 2017 after the jury deliberated for approximately an hour. The 32-year old Damon woman was then sentenced to a two-year probation in an agreement with prosecutors. Beard was charged with the crime in 2015 after a diligent citizen witnessed her dangerous driving and called authorities.
According to lead prosecutor Madison Limbacher, a vigilant citizen reported a dangerous driver traveling northbound on Highway 59 on December 20, 2015, around 8:30 in the evening. The citizen followed the driver for approximately 15 minutes and continued to report the driver’s erratic movements and location to the dispatcher. The caller reported the driver swerving and nearly running people off the road, and at one point, driving into a ditch. After being clocked driving at 90 miles an hour, the driver eventually came to a stop in a residential driveway in Needville. Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Deputy John Davis soon arrived and approached the vehicle, which was still running. There he made contact with the defendant, Kathryn Beard, who was still seated in the driver’s seat. Beard stumbled out of the car when asked to exit the vehicle and Deputy Davis noticed her slow slurred speech and an odor of alcohol coming from her person. The defendant admitted to Davis that she drank three glasses of wine and had taken a sleeping pill. Needville Police Officer Schoof then arrived and evaluated Beard using standardized field sobriety tests. While evaluating the defendant’s sobriety, Beard stated that she “couldn’t do this sober.” After being arrested, Beard refused to provide a breath sample and told Officer Schoof that she was likely to fail the test if she did provide a sample.
The State highlighted the compelling testimony of the 911 caller in closing arguments, whose narration of the defendant’s extremely dangerous driving combined with the defendant’s own admissions left only one reasonable conclusion for the jury: that the defendant was driving while intoxicated. “The challenge with this case was a lack of video evidence,” said Limbacher, “but the jury relied on the officers’ credibility and the real-time 911 recording from one of our responsible citizens in order to reach a just result.”
Beard was tried in County Court at Law No. 5 before Presiding Judge Ron Cohen. Driving While Intoxicated in this case is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. While the case was pending trial, Beard was placed on bond conditions that prohibited her from consuming alcohol. When the defendant continued to test positive for alcohol use, the State sought to modify the conditions of Beard’s release, which were granted by Judge Cohen. During her probationary term, Beard must attend a DWI education class, a Victim Impact Panel and perform 40 hours of community service. She must also undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation, and wear an alcohol-sensing SCRAM monitor and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on a regular basis.
Assistant District Attorneys Madison Limbacher and Lisa Gregg prosecuted the case. Attorney Eddrea McKnight represented the defendant.