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Texas prosecutor drops domestic violence case against Beard

NCAA Basketball: Texas-El Paso at Texas

Nov 7, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard signals to players during the first half against the Texas-El Paso Miners at Moody Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN, Texas -- A Texas prosecutor moved to dismiss a felony domestic violence case against former Texas basketball coach Chris Beard, in part because of the alleged victim’s wishes not to prosecute.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said that “after a careful and thorough review of the evidence” and considering the wishes of Randi Trew, Beard’s fiancee, his office determined the charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation-family violence could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Beard was arrested Dec. 12 after Trew called 911 and told officers that Beard strangled, bit and hit her during a confrontation in his home. She later said Beard didn’t choke her, and that he defended himself from her. She added that she never intended him to be arrested and prosecuted.

“Everyone knows that Coach Beard has maintained his absolute innocence since the moment he was arrested,” said Perry Minton, Beard’s attorney. “Additionally, this district attorney has a well-earned reputation for being very tough regarding domestic violence cases. The fact that Mr. Garza’s review resulted in this determination so quickly says a lot. We are very pleased.”

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence, but Trew issued a public statement on Dec. 23 about Beard’s arrest and their fight that night, disputing several elements of the initial police account.

The third-degree felony charge carried a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison if prosecutors had pressed the case to conviction.

“Our office takes all domestic abuse cases seriously to ensure justice for the victims,” Garza said. “In every case, we are obligated to evaluate the facts and evidence and do our best to reach an outcome that will keep the victim and our community safe.”

Garza also defended his office’s record of pursuing domestic violence cases, noting his office has secured more than 1,000 convictions in family violence cases since 2021, with more than 200 people going to prison.

According to the police affidavit in support of Beard’s arrest, Trew initially told officers he strangled her from behind to the point where she couldn’t breathe for several seconds. The affidavit listed several visible signs of an altercation, including bite marks on her arm and abrasions on her face and leg.

According to the affidavit, Trew initally told police “he choked me, bit me, bruises all over my leg, throwing me around and going nuts.” Her later statement did not address why she called 911 or several of the physical injuries described in the police report.

Texas suspended Beard without pay the day he was arrested. He was fired on Jan. 5 when Texas officials told Beard’s attorney he was “unfit” to lead the program.

Texas has been led by interim coach Rodney Terry since Dec. 12. The Longhorns are ranked No. 6 and share first place in the Big 12.

A University of Texas spokesman declined comment Wednesday.

Beard had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract that included a provision saying he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a felony or committed other behavior unbecoming of his position or that reflected poorly on the university.

The university’s vice president of legal affairs, Jim Davis, wrote in a letter to Beard’s attorney on the day the coach was fired that Beard engaged in “unacceptable behavior that makes him unfit to serve as head coach at our university.”

Whether prosecutors continue with the case does not determine whether Beard engaged in conduct unbecoming of the school, Davis wrote.