A prosecutor took the unusual step Friday of asking a judge to appoint a sanity panel to determine whether a Slaughter man accused of fatally shooting two women and wounding another at Grady Crawford Construction Co. in 2009 is competent to assist his attorneys.
Typically, defense attorneys are the ones who make such requests.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Darwin Miller made the request “out of an abundance of caution” in the capital murder case after Richard Matthews, 55, contradicted his court-appointed lawyers and said he is not communicating with them because, “I really don’t need no help.”
“I couldn’t get no help (in 2009) when I needed to pay my bills,” Matthews, who was fired from the Greenwell Springs Road construction firm several months before the shootings, said Friday in the latest of his many courtroom rants. He also said he could not get help with unemployment benefits.
On May 25, Matthews said during a court hearing in his capital murder case that he does not need attorneys because, “I did a crime.”
While deputies were escorting him from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office the day of the shootings, Matthews told reporters, “I was trying to get my unemployment, but they wouldn’t give me my unemployment. … I would never have did that.’’
Two weeks later at his first court appearance, state District Judge Tony Marabella asked Matthews if he had funds to hire a lawyer, and Matthews replied, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.’’
Fred Kroenke, one of Matthews’ attorneys, told Marabella on Friday that he objects “strenuously” to Miller’s request for the appointment of a sanity commission.
Marabella, who acknowledged he has some “very serious concerns” about Matthews’ ability to assist his legal team, nevertheless scheduled a hearing for Sept. 28 on the state’s request that he name a sanity panel.
“As of right now I believe this court has enough reason to do so,” the judge noted.
Matthews is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killing of Grady Crawford clerical workers Dianna Tullier, 44, of Walker, and Cheryl D. Boykin, 55, of Denham Springs, on Dec. 23, 2009. He also is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder.
One of the attempted murder counts accuses Matthews of trying to kill Trey Crawford, a son of the owner of Grady Crawford Construction. Trey Crawford was not at the business when Matthews arrived that afternoon but allegedly was the intended target, District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said.
An affidavit of probable cause says Matthews told a deputy he “did not mean to shoot anyone other than the owner’s son.’’ Matthews was fired by the owner’s son because of poor work performance, the affidavit states. Matthews had worked as a laborer at the business for five years.
The day he was terminated, Matthews told someone at the company that they had not heard the last of him, but the remark was not reported to the Sheriff’s Office until Dec. 23, 2009, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has said.
Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty.
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