GALVESTON — A San Leon man convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the 1984 death of Ellen Rae Beason was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.

Clyde Hedrick, 60, was charged with murder in the cold-case killing, but was convicted by a Galveston County jury last week of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter.

Hedrick was previously convicted of abusing a corpse in 1986 after Beason’s body was found under a couch in a field just north of the Galveston Causeway.

Hedrick told authorities he had gone swimming with Beason in a Dickinson sand pit after a night out at a League City bar and she drowned. He then “panicked” and drove the 29-year-old woman’s body to the field, Hedrick’s attorneys said Friday during the trial’s closing arguments.

Then-Galveston County Medical Examiner William Earl Korndorffer reported that he could not determine a cause of death.

Investigators reopened the case and had Beason’s body exhumed in 2012 when a forensic exam at the University of North Texas Health Science Center found a skull fracture that led Dr. Harrell Gill-King to rule her death a homicide.

A court document filed before the weeklong trial indicated that prosecutors may seek to connect Hedrick to the deaths of two young women whose bodies were found in an area called the “Killing Fields” near Calder Road in League City.

A link between Hedrick and the unsolved cases was not brought up during the trial.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

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