By Kathi Bliss
A Caldwell County Grand Jury believes that the November death of Cynthia Jo McKee, 57, was caused by a criminal act.
Last week, the Caldwell County Grand Jury entered an indictment against area resident Willie Nathan Brite, 43, in connection with McKee’s drowning death during the Halloween 2013 flooding event.
Brite, who will face a charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide, was alleged to have driven around a “road closed/high water” barricade on Polonia Road on the night of Nov. 2, 2013, in an effort to pull a prank on McKee, who was a passenger in his vehicle. The truck was overcome by the rushing water in the creek, and though Brite escaped, McKee was trapped in the vehicle and washed away in the flood surge.
Brite’s truck, and McKee’s body, were missing for days as the flood waters posed a significant risk to search and rescue workers, who finally recovered the truck on Nov. 11, 2013, and a body identified as McKee on Nov. 12.
In December, Brite was arrested on another felony charge, Driving While Intoxicated (Subsequent Offense) after witnesses reported that his vehicle struck a parked car. After investigating the scene, officers determined that Brite was intoxicated, and after hearing evidence last week, the Grand Jury opted to enter a felony indictment for that offense, as well.
Criminally Negligent Homicide carries a penalty of 180 days to two years in Texas State Jail, and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Driving While Intoxicated (Subsequent Offense) is a third degree felony, punishable by 2 – 10 years imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
The Caldwell County Jail reported that Brite was taken into custody on Monday evening, and had two bonds set at $100,000 each. It was unclear, at press time, whether Brite had been released from custody on bond.