No date set in case of workplace slayings
An man accused of double-murder whose appearances in a Baton Rouge courtroom often are marked by his uncooperative and erratic behavior was found competent by a state judge Tuesday to assist his court-appointed attorneys.
Richard Matthews, who appeared to be on his best behavior during a brief court appearance, is charged in the fatal shooting of two women and wounding of a third in December 2009 at Grady Crawford Construction Co. on Greenwell Springs Road, where he once worked.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday that his office intends to seek the death penalty if Matthews, 56, of Slaughter, is convicted of first-degree murder.
A trial date has not been set.
District Judge Tony Marabella, at the request of the District Attorney’s Office, appointed a panel of doctors in January to determine whether Matthews has the capacity to proceed to trial and assist in his own defense. The doctors’ assignment had nothing to do with Matthews’ sanity at the time of the offense.
The psychiatrists testified last month that they believe Matthews is capable of assisting his attorneys, if he chooses to do so.
At a hearing in January, Matthews refused to state his name for Marabella and would not commit to cooperate fully with his attorneys. When Marabella asked Matthews at that hearing if he would be willing to discuss possible defenses with his lawyers, Matthews replied, “What’s there to talk about?”
During a July 2012 hearing when prosecutor Darwin Miller asked Marabella to consider appointing doctors to assess Matthews’ competency to proceed, Matthews contradicted his attorneys 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,” said Matthews, who was fired from the construction firm several months before the shootings, at that hearing. He also said he could not get help with unemployment benefits.
Matthews stated during a May 2012 hearing 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, Marabella asked Matthews if he had funds to hire a lawyer, and Matthews replied, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.’’
Matthews’ attorneys have filed a motion to suppress his confessions and/or statements, but prosecutors contend the statements were made freely and voluntarily.
After ruling Tuesday that Matthews is competent to assist in his own defense, Marabella scheduled a hearing Oct. 25 on any outstanding motions.
Kyla Romanach, one of Matthews’ attorneys, told the judge the defense objects to his ruling. Romanach and fellow Matthews attorney Mario Guadamud declined comment after the hearing.
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, Moore 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.