Man allegedly was targeting former employer
Two East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies who came in contact with Richard Matthews minutes after the Slaughter man allegedly killed two construction company employees and wounded a third on Dec. 23, 2009, revealed Friday that Matthews asked them to take his life.
“He wanted us to kill him,” Deputy Terryl Carter, who handcuffed Matthews at Grady Crawford Construction Co. and put him in the back of his patrol car, testified at a pretrial hearing in Matthews’ capital murder case.
“He said, ‘Ya’ll can just kill me now,’ ” added Deputy Evan Burk, who drove Matthews from the crime scene to the Sheriff’s Office in downtown Baton Rouge.
“He said he knew what he did was wrong.”
In statements to police and reporters, Matthews, 56, — who was fired from the company several months before the shootings — has said he went to the firm that day to kill Trey Crawford, a son of the owner of Grady Crawford Construction — because he could not get unemployment benefits.
“He said something about his unemployment,” Carter recalled a calm Matthews saying. “He said he did what he had to do because he had to feed his kids.”
Burk remembered Matthews was mumbling and crying on the way to the Sheriff’s Office.
“He kept saying, ‘They did me wrong. I got kids to feed. It’s almost Christmas. They wouldn’t give me my unemployment,’ ” Burk testified, describing Matthews as distraught at that time.
While Lt. Lawrence Cavalier, a sheriff’s homicide detective, was transporting Matthews from the Sheriff’s Office to Parish Prison for booking on Dec. 23, 2009, a hysterical Matthews can be heard in an audio recording crying and saying, “All I wanted was my unemployment.” He also complains that he was making only $7 an hour while others were earning $7.50 per hour.
“He was mad. He was upset at Trey Crawford,” Cavalier said as Crawford sat in the courtroom audience.
Matthews’ court-appointed attorneys Kyla Blanchard-Romanach and Mario Guadamud wanted state District Judge Tony Marabella to bar a jury from hearing Matthews’ various statements to police and the press, but the judge denied that request Friday.
Prosecutor Darwin Miller argued Matthews was in custody when he made the statements, but that they were not made in response to any law enforcement interrogation and were given freely and voluntarily.
“These statements were made of Mr. Matthews’ own volition,” Marabella said.
Also Friday, the judge gave Matthews’ attorneys until Dec. 17 to decide whether mental disability will be part of his defense.
In January, at the prosecution’s request, Marabella appointed a panel of doctors to determine whether Matthews had the capacity to proceed to trial and aid in his own defense. The judge last month found Matthews competent to assist his court-appointed lawyers. The doctors’ assignment had nothing to do with Matthews’ sanity at the time of the offense.
Matthews’ next court date is Dec. 17. He does not have a trial date. Prosecutors have notified the defense of their intention to seek the death penalty.
Matthews is accused of fatally shooting clerical workers Dianna Tullier, 44, of Walker, and Cheryl Boykin, 55, of Denham Springs, and wounding a third woman employee, who survived the attack.
He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder. One of the attempted murder counts accuses him of trying to kill Trey Crawford, who was not at the business when Matthews arrived that afternoon.
Matthews was fired by the owner’s son because of poor work performance, an affidavit states.
Matthews told someone at the company the day he was fired 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.