Trial begins for Orange County man accused of homicide with vehicle

Published 3:29 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

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A Beaumont police officer was the first to take the stand Tuesday during a murder trial that follows the death of Christopher Matthews.

Officer Reginald Boseman was called to testify by Prosecutor Phillip Smith Jr. in the murder trail of Max Lee Keath of Orange County.

Boseman said officers arrived at the apartment complex on Major Drive Oct. 30 and saw a black male on the ground.

Boseman said he went to provide aid but saw that a piece of the back of the victim’s head was missing. His first thought, he said, was the victim had been sot with a shotgun, due the extent of the injuries.

But during the initial investigation no shell casings were found. They soon concluded Christopher Matthews had been struck by a vehicle that did not remain on scene.

Keath was indicted on the charge of murder in December.

According to a probable cause affidavit, at 2:32 a.m. Oct. 30, the body of 38-year-old Christopher Matthews was found on Major Drive in Beaumont. The man, who had been struck by a vehicle, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

Witnesses near a house in the 3900 block of Cheryl Street in Beaumont said they overheard an argument between Matthews and at least one person in the residence prior to seeing a light-colored truck speeding towards an apartment complex on Major Drive. Witnesses at the complex reported seeing the same vehicle prior to hearing a thud and then seeing the truck speed away.

At least one witness identified Keath as the driver.

Officials with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office later drove by the suspect’s home, where they found a vehicle matching the reported description “parked behind the residence in what appeared to be an attempt to hide the vehicle from view,” the document says.

Detectives from the Beaumont Police Department and deputies from Orange County Sheriff’s Office later spoke to Keath and his wife at their home, where the man agreed to give a statement at the Beaumont Police Department.

Police say the man admitted to drinking and socializing at the house in Beaumont when an argument began between Matthews and the homeowner. He then drove a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado to Major Drive, where he located the victim.

Keath allegedly told officers Matthews made a gun motion with his hands, after which Keath intentionally struck him with his truck before returning to Cheryl Street for personal belongings and driving to his residence on Texas 12.

Keath remains in the Jefferson County Jail on bonds totaling $950,000.

The trial is being heard in the 252nd District Court with Judge Raquel West presiding.

Keath is being represented by Thomas Kelly.