A judge ruled Thursday that there was no probable cause in the case of a Texas mother accused of putting her Covid-positive 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Sarah Beam, a 41-year-old school teacher, was arrested Jan. 8 and charged with endangering a child. She was later released after posting $1,500 bond.
In the Jan. 3 incident, she went to a drive-thru testing site at Pridgeon Stadium in Houston, where she allegedly told the director of health services at the site that the child was in the trunk to avoid exposing her as she was driving, according to charging documents.
Beam allegedly told the director her child was positive for Covid-19 and she brought him to the site for additional testing, documents show.
The director said the child was seen lying down inside the trunk and called police. Security video from a nearby middle school confirmed the official’s account, according to charging documents.
Judge Chris Morton said at the Thursday hearing no probable cause was found and she was discharged, according to court records.
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Sarah Beam’s attorney, Nathaniel Pitoniak, in a phone call declined to comment Thursday evening.
However, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office could still pursue charges.
“We absolutely respect the judge’s ruling and we will continue with our work,” Dane Schiller, spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said to NBC News.
“We will review all the evidence gathered by police and make a determination on how to proceed, including the possibility of presenting this case to a grand jury, so that representatives of the people of Harris County can decide whether a criminal charge is appropriate,” Schiller added.
Beam is a high school English teacher who has been with the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, northwest of Houston, since 2011, NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported.
She was placed on administrative leave, the district said in a statement to NBC News last week.
Beam’s home has been decorated with posters bearing messages of support following the controversy, KPRC reported.
One of her neighbors, Doug Becker, expressed criticism over the incident, however, telling the outlet, “I think she needs to be held accountable if she put a kid in a trunk. I have a problem with that.”