Texas trucker exonerated after felony charge dropped

| 2/23/2011

In August 2009, Thaddeus Mathews purchased a new chrome bumper for his 1996 Kenworth.

For three weeks the bumper rode with Mathews as he made runs north to the Midwest before returning back home to Burleson, TX.

Since Sept. 4, 2009, however, the bumper has been in the possession of the Hillsboro, TX police department a small town squad that twice failed to make charges stick against Thaddeus, a 55-year-old veteran trucker with a clean record.

Thaddeus, an OOIDA senior member from Burleson TX, spent a year and a half with a felony aggravated assault with a motor vehicle charge hanging over his head. That cloud, however, recently lifted after prosecutors dropped all charges. No plea bargain was needed.

My wife was saying, You mean to tell me it was dismissed Thaddeus said. Its over!

The news ended a nearly 18-month nightmare for the Mathews family that started when Mathews said he noticed a car that was very close to the front of his truck during a bumper to bumper traffic jam on I-35. Police claimed Thaddeus struck the car multiple times, and said they had paint shavings taken from both bumpers to prove it.

The evidence never did materialize.

Starting with the night of his arrest, Thaddeus spent seven days in jail while held on a $250,000 bond. In that week, Hillsboro police filed a civil claim in court to take ownership of his truck.

Six months after his arrest, a grand jury in Hill County, TX, indicted Mathews for aggravated assault with a vehicle.

In late December, Thaddeus was cleared by a special prosecutor, who dropped the charge. Thaddeus said he even received an apology from the prosecutor.

He said it shouldnt have been pushed as far as it was, Thaddeus told Land Line Magazine. They didnt have evidence to jail me for what they jailed me for.

In December 2009, Land Line Magazine featured Thaddeus story in a feature article titled, "Hill County blues."

Thaddeus lost his job after the arrest, and the ordeal has cost him $8,000 in legal fees. He has continued to work in trucking, and said hes not quite ready to retire.

Hes still waiting, however, for his bumper to be returned.

Thats the only thing Im still waiting for getting that bumper back, Thaddeus said last week. Believe me, Im not going to wait six months to get my bumper back. If I dont get a response soon, I am going to call the chief of police. Out of spite or just for the hell of it, I will haul them into court.