A 55-year-old Slaughter man accused of fatally shooting two women and wounding another at Grady Crawford Construction Co. in 2009 told a judge Friday he does not need attorneys because “I did a crime.’’
“Ain’t nothin’ can help my situation. They can’t help me. They can’t help me and I can’t help myself. There ain’t nothin’ to talk about,’’ Richard Matthews told state District Judge Tony Marabella during a hearing in his first-degree murder case.
The exchange between Matthews and Marabella began after Fred Kroenke, one of Matthews’ court-appointed public defenders, told the judge that Matthews has stopped communicating with him.
At that point, Marabella tried to speak with Matthews, who was seated to the side, shackled and dressed in an orange and white striped East Baton Rouge Parish Prison jumpsuit.
“Mr. Matthews? Mr. Matthews? Mr. Matthews?’’ the judge said from the bench without getting any response from Matthews.
A sheriff’s deputy then told Marabella that Matthews had stated “they would have to do what they have to do.’’
“Mr. Matthews, are you refusing to speak to your lawyer?’’ the judge asked.
“I don’t need no lawyer,’’ Matthews finally replied.
“Do what you got to do,’’ Matthews added several times.
“Why are you here?’’ the judge inquired.
“I did a crime,’’ Matthews answered.
Marabella told Matthews it would be in his best interest to speak with his attorneys. The judge also told Matthews he has an “absolute right’’ to represent himself.
Marabella urged Matthews to speak with Kroenke in advance of a June 22 hearing, at which time Kroenke will announce who his new co-counsel will be.
Kroenke told Marabella that Nelvil Hollingsworth, a top East Baton Rouge Parish public defender who has been representing Matthews from the beginning of the case, has removed himself from the case because he is now on disability status as far as his practicing law.
A court motion Kroenke filed Friday states that Hollingsworth “has a health issue and is going to be hospitalized.’’
Hollingsworth pleaded no contest in March to a misdemeanor charge of simple possession of marijuana following his February arrest on a felony charge of introduction of contraband into a penal institution. He was arrested for allegedly attempting to enter Louisiana State Penitentiary with small amount of marijuana in his jacket.
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, at the Greenwell Springs Road business. He also is charged with five counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Matthews was fired from the company several months before the shootings.
Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty.
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, Marabella asked Matthews if he had funds to hire a lawyer, and Matthews replied, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.’’
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, 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.