Accused double-murderer has plenty to say, just not to his attorneys
Richard Matthews, the man accused of fatally shooting two women and wounding a third at Grady Crawford Construction Co. on Dec. 23, 2009, has had plenty to say since that ill-fated day — much to the chagrin of his court-appointed attorneys.
Matthews, 55, of Slaughter, claims he does not communicate with those attorneys and does not need them, but that hasn’t stopped him from talking freely to others.
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.’’
At his first court appearance, state District Judge Tony Marabella asked Matthews if he had money to hire a lawyer. Matthews replied, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.’’
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.
Matthews, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder, rarely misses an opportunity to say something at his court appearances — often over the objection of his attorneys.
“My job is to do what’s in his best interest,” Fred Kroenke, one of those attorneys, said in a recent interview. “What he thinks is in his best interest is not what we think is in his best interest.”
Matthews’ erratic courtroom behavior recently prompted prosecutor Darwin Miller to ask Marabella to appoint a sanity commission to determine whether Matthews is competent to assist his attorneys. The judge will hold a hearing on the request Sept. 28.
Miller’s request cites statements Matthews made at court hearings May 25 and June 22.
On May 25, Matthews told the judge that his attorneys “can’t help me and I can’t help myself,” the documents state. Miller does not mention in the documents that at the hearing, Matthews also said he does not need attorneys because “I did a crime.”
At the June 22 hearing, Marabella and Matthews had an exchange that Miller documents in his request for a sanity panel. The exchange went as follows, with the judge asking questions and Matthews giving answers:
“Are you talking with your lawyers?”
“I ain’t got nothing to say.”
“Are you talking with other people who are out there that are helping your lawyers?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I ain’t got nothing to say.”
“You don’t want to help yourself?”
“Have there been doctors to come out and talk with you?”
“Ain’t nothing wrong with me.”
“So what do you want to do? What do you expect me to do?”
“Send me on up the road.”
“Send me on up the road. Send me on up the road.”
“What does that mean?”
“Send me on to Angola.”
That is precisely where Matthews will end up if he is convicted of first-degree murder, which carries either death by lethal injection at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola or life in prison at the Angola facility.
Joe Gyan Jr. covers courts for The Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com.