Jury hands down sentence for Orange County man following Beaumont killing

Published 2:50 pm Thursday, October 26, 2023

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BEAUMONT — A Mauriceville man was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in prison for his role in the death of a Beaumont man.

Max Lee Keath, 45, was found guilty Wednesday for the Oct. 30, 2022, killing of Christopher Matthews, 38.

The trial took place in Judge Raquel West’s 252nd District Court. The sentence was handed down Thursday morning by a jury, according to information from the court.

Keath was indicted for 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 home on Texas 12.

— Written by Mary Meaux