published Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Jesse Mathews' parents shift plea to guilty

  • photo
    Ray Vance Mathews, father of Jesse Mathews, helped to arm him, police say.

The parents of a 26-year-old man indicted on charges he killed a Chattanooga police sergeant have decided to plead guilty to helping their fugitive son before and after the killing.

Federal prosecutors charged Kathleen and Ray Mathews just weeks after police had arrested their son Jesse Mathews on April 2. Each faced 11 counts including: tampering with a witness, victim or informant; accessory after the fact; withholding information on a crime; and selling firearms to addicts, felons, fugitives.

Prosecutors also charged Kathleen Mathews with three counts of unlawful transport of firearms. In their arraignment hearings each pleaded not guilty.

The pair have a change of plea hearing set for Sept. 21, according to court documents.

Jesse Mathews was a federal fugitive who had left a halfway house while on parole for an armed robbery conviction in Colorado. Shortly after leaving the house he robbed pawn shops of jewelry, cash and firearms, according to authorities.

District Attorney Bill Cox and Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston are seeking the death penalty against Jesse Mathews in state court.

The next scheduled court date for Jesse Mathews is Oct. 11 on first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery charges.

Prosecutors have said in previous hearings that Jesse Mathews' family sold some of his stolen goods at a local gun show and area pawn shops in the weeks after his flight. They also charged that family members hid evidence and lied to police following Jesse Mathews' arrest in the botched robbery of a Chattanooga money store and the shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin.

The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the ongoing case. Court documents show that on Friday change of plea hearings were set for Kathleen and Ray Mathews.

Ray Mathews' attorney Lee Ortwein gave this statement regarding his client's decision to plead guilty: "Mr. Mathews is distraught about the events leading to the death of Sgt. Chapin and hopes that his cooperation with authorities will at least, in some way, demonstrate his remorse to all of the citizens of Chattanooga."

Kathleen Mathews' attorney, Federal Public Defender Anthony Martinez, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Jesse Mathews entered the U.S. Money Shops on Brainerd Road on April 2 and held the store staff at gunpoint, demanding money, gold and jewelry, according to witness testimony in his state court preliminary hearing.

During the robbery a store employee triggered a silent alarm and Chattanooga police responded. When Jesse Mathews spotted an officer he began firing a semiautomatic pistol.

A brief gunfight ensued. Store employees fled out of the side of the building. Jesse Mathews also exited the building and began to jog around the back. That's when Chapin arrived on scene, bumping Jesse Mathews with his patrol car, which caused Mathews to drop his gun. Chapin got out of his car and Tasered Mathews.

Jesse Mathews rose, pulled out a concealed pistol and fired it at Chapin, a witness testified. The pair traded shots until one of Mathews' bullets struck the sergeant at close range and killed him, according to testimony.

Police subdued Jesse Mathews within minutes of the slaying. A neighbor held Jesse Mathews at gunpoint from his yard, according to court testimony.

Jesse Mathews' sister, Rachel Mathews, 21, and her boyfriend James Poteete, 26, pleaded guilty on Aug. 10 to aiding Jesse Mathews before the robbery. Prosecutors charged the pair with the same 11 counts both Ray and Kathleen Mathews face. Rachel Mathews and Poteete have a sentencing hearing scheduled for Nov. 14.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
rolando said...


This pair will plea bargain it down to Misdemeanor Aiding A Felon or something equally ridiculous, get six months probation, and walk away.

One thing -- it is cheaper to do that than to suffer the eternal delays, an expensive trial and subsequent retrials and appeals for ever and ever, amen. And have them walk anyway.

Maybe they should do the same for the rest of the cop-killing "chi-i-i-l-l-l-dren" out there.

Then our prosecutors could save real the trials for the truly heinous that 80-something guy that burned down a house he paid to have built...with no injuries.


September 10, 2011 at 5:49 a.m.
jesse said...

if they go before judge stern she's gonna tell them "11/29 susp .1 yr.probation AND "you folks need to cut this this stuff out!!"

cox's crew gonna say "amen sister"!!

September 10, 2011 at 7:06 a.m.
Echo said...

Touching sentiments from Chattanooga's father of the year as eloquently barfed forth by his court appointed and taxpayer funded counsel. As for mother of the year, the fruit of thy womb would have been best harvested by D&C.

What a waste of money, this entire circus. We The People need to take a hard look at the courts who have built our prisons into the hospitality industry. Judges, police, jailers, medical care, clean sheets, food, all on our tab. All court mandated privileges that normal people have to go to work and grind away for, if they are fortunate enough to have a job at all.

Children, the elderly, and the disabled, do without to provide for the folly, the kabuki theater, the play in the three acts, the correctional industrial complex that makes people feel important as they levy "justice". What would this looked like 125 years ago? Stocks? Public hanging? Hard labor in prison until death by disease? These two are without remorse and sucking up resources while we have innocent people in our society that need help. Anyone that calls themselves a "Christian" as so many so often do, should consider that our courts shape our society and what we value as well as reflect our priorities. Our courts set the priorities for much of our spending via mandates. It is our responsibility to know what they are doing and use our votes to make sure that elected and appointed judges are the extension of our values and priorities.

This clan should have been swinging from gallows as a side attraction for riverfest. Children, the elderly, and the disabled should be where our effort and money are focused.

September 22, 2011 at 6:41 a.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.