Doctors appointed to assess competency

A judge appointed a panel of doctors Friday to determine whether a Slaughter man accused of fatally shooting two women and wounding another at Grady Crawford Construction Co. in late 2009 is competent to assist his attorneys and proceed to trial.

Richard Matthews’ attorneys objected to the state’s request for a so-called sanity commission, but Matthews essentially left state District Judge Tony Marabella no choice when he once again was uncooperative with the judge.

Matthews, 56, refused to state his name for the record and would not commit to cooperate fully with his attorneys. When Marabella asked Matthews if he would be willing to discuss possible defenses with his attorneys, Matthews replied, “What’s there to talk about?”

Shortly before Matthews’ brief exchange with the judge, prosecutor Darwin Miller argued that appointing a sanity commission in the capital murder case would be the “prudent thing to do” based on what he described as Matthews’ previous “troublesome” courtroom behavior.

Kyla Romanach, one of Matthews’ attorneys, countered inside the courtroom that there is no “reasonable ground to doubt” his competency to proceed to trial.

Marabella disagreed and appointed three doctors — Robert Storer, of Baton Rouge, and John Thompson and Michael Blue, both with the Tulane University School of Medicine — to evaluate Matthews’ capacity to proceed to trial and assist his attorneys. The judge stressed that the doctors’ assignment has nothing to do with Matthews’ sanity at the time of the offense.

Marabella scheduled a hearing April 5 to review the doctors’ reports.

David Price, director of the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, objected to the judge’s ruling. That office is representing Matthews.

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.

Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty.

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 Greenwell Springs Road business when Matthews arrived that afternoon but allegedly was the intended target, East Baton Rouge Parish 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.

While deputies were escorting him from the 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.’’