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Parole review process underway for officer's killer
BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull
The parole review process for a man convicted of hitting and killing Beaumont Police Officer Lisa Beaulieu is underway, along with a campaign to keep the man responsible for her death behind bars.
Willie McCray is serving an 11-year sentence for intoxication manslaughter. He became eligible for parole last year after serving half his sentence. The parole board denied his release last year. The process is underway again, but family, friends and colleagues of Beaulieu are working to make sure McCray stays behind bars.
"She always had a great, big smile on her face and it was just infectious," Gloria Prince, Beaulieu's mother, said.
"Her demeanor, her passion, her spirit for life," Beaumont Police Detective Tina Lewallen said.
Both women wear a piece of jewelry remembering a daughter, a friend and colleague killed in the line of duty.
"Even though it's been seven years, you don't ever forget it," Prince said.
On April 27, 2007, McCray crashed into Beaumont Police Officer Lisa Beaulieu. She was working the scene of an accident on the Delaware St. overpass of the Eastex Freeway. The 25-year old man driving drunk approached that scene, veered to the shoulder and crashed into the officer. The impact knocked Beaulieu off the overpass and she fell to the ground. Beaulieu died at a hospital, only 36-years old.
"Her entire life was ahead of her and that was all wiped in a matter of seconds," Lewallen said.
"The only thing I could do at the time was get down, hold her hand and just let her know that she was not alone," Beaumont Police Sgt. Rob Flores said.
The night's revisited in their minds as the parole board decides whether the driver, Willie McCray, should go free. In January 2008, a jury sentenced him to 11 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter. His blood alcohol level was .10 the night of the accident. The legal limit is .08. The trial brought McCray's family and dozens of Beaumont Police Officer's to the Jefferson County Courthouse.
"It really galls me even more to this day to understand that he does not take responsibility for that," Flores said.
"If he hasn't admitted that he was at fault then how can he be rehabilitated?" Prince said.
The review process is underway. The formal review is scheduled for June, when the parole board will look over paperwork and letters for and against McCray's parole. The board denied it last year when he became eligible for the first time.
The parole board will take into consideration the severity of the crime, any criminal history and how McCray spent his time in prison. The public has the opportunity to write letters of support or protest.
"Many of our officers are writing letters. I'm writing a letter," Flores said.
"I wrote a letter, yes. Although I guess it was more like a book. It was about five or six pages and I sent a lot of pictures and things but it was more about Lisa than it was about McCray," Prince said. "I understand it's very difficult for his family to have him away, but he will come back. Lisa won't."
The fallen officer is the only female police officer in Beaumont to die in the line of duty.
"The people who are making the decision about Mr.McCray's parole, they need to know that Lisa touched the lives and she continues to touch lives to this day," Flores said.
Although there is no formal public hearing, you can voice your opinion by sending a letter expressing support or opposition to:
TDCJ - Parole Division
P.O. Box 13401
Capitol Station, Austin, TX 78711