WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It took a jury less than one hour to land on a verdict in the murder trial of the driver in a 2019 DWI crash that killed a 4-year-old boy.
Migel Juliana Matthew, 32, was found guilty of murder on Friday, April 22 in 78th District Court.
78th District Court Judge Meredith Kennedy presided over the trial.
A murder conviction means Matthew faces a possible sentence of anywhere from 5 years up to life in prison.
Matthew was originally charged with intoxication manslaughter, and her defense attorney asked the jury Friday for a verdict on the lesser charge.
Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie was able to have the charge upgraded to murder in March 2020.
Matthew’s defense attorneys filed to quash the murder indictment, but were unsuccessful.
The charge stems from a drunk driving wreck in December 2019 that killed 4-year-old Christian Redmond.
Matthew was driving the car after picking up some of her friend Tyneshia Chatman’s children from Booker T. Washington school, including Christian who was in pre-kindergarten.
Chatman, who was a passenger with her five kids, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
Five of the seven occupants were ejected when the car wrecked and flipped. Redmond was pronounced dead on the scene.
Officers said both first responders and witnesses who stopped to help said they could smell alcohol on Matthews’ breath, and there was a strong odor of alcohol inside the car.
They said they found multiple open and half empty 25 ounce cans and bottles of beer as well as liquor bottles around the crash site.
Gillespie was able to have the charge upgraded from manslaughter to murder in March 2020 by using the “felony murder rule” for the first time in his career.
The precedent was pioneered in Tarrant County and maintains that a murder charge is warranted and prosecutable when a death is caused in the course of committing another felony.
Gillespie argued Matthew’s charge should be upgraded because she caused Redmond’s death while committing the felony offense of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger.
More from the murder trial
- Monday, April 18 — Jury selection begins
- Tuesday, April 19 — Trial begins, witnesses testify
- Wednesday, April 20 — Victim’s siblings testify