published Monday, March 12th, 2012

Hearing for man accused of killing Chattanooga policeman delayed

A judge has set a June 19 hearing date for a Colorado man who faces the possibility of the death penalty in the killing of a Chattanooga police sergeant.

Jesse Mathews, 26, did not make an appearance Monday for the brief status check hearing in Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.

Prosecutor Neal Pinkston and defense attorney Lee Davis asked to return for in-court hearings on multiple motions in June. Davis and co-counsel Bryan Hoss have filed nearly 40 motions in advance of the Jan. 22, 2013, trial.

Mathews, a federal fugitive on previous armed robbery convictions, fled a Colorado halfway house while on parole earlier last year. By February, he and mother Kathleen, father Ray Vance and sister Rachel Mathews were living in Chattanooga, according to court documents.

Jesse Mathews is accused of robbing the U.S. Money Shops on Brainerd Road on April 2, 2011. During the robbery, Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin attempted to stop Mathews from fleeing and was shot to death, police said. Mathews is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder involving shots fired at other police officers and one count of aggravated robbery.

All three of Jesse Mathews' relatives and Rachel Mathews' boyfriend, James David Poteete, were sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty to charges related to their involvement in helping Jesse before the robbery and shooting.

U.S. District Judge Harry "Sandy" Mattice sentenced Kathleen Mathews to 30 years and six months, Ray Vance Mathews to 20 years and 10 months, Rachel Mathews to 11 years and three months and Poteete to six years and seven months. All four have filed notices to appeal their sentences.

Under Hamilton County District Attorney's Office policy, attorneys are not permitted to comment on pending cases.

On Monday, Davis explained the procedural steps involved in some of the motions he has filed, but declined to comment on any specifics of Mathews' case, citing state ethics rules regarding attorney conduct.

Davis and Hoss have asked Steelman to allow for individual jury selection and a sequestered jury throughout the trial, which could last two to three weeks. They also have requested that their client be allowed to wear civilian clothing and not be shackled during both jury selection and the trial.

Davis said that, while there is no law requiring that a defendant be allowed to wear civilian clothing, in his experience jurors may not perceive the defendant as innocent until proven guilty if he or she is wearing a prison jumpsuit.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com.

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 ...

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