published Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Accused Chattanooga cop-killer’s girlfriend indicted

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    Veteran officer Tim Chapin was shot and killed April 2 after pursuing and exchanging fire with a suspect following an attempted armed robbery of a pawnshop on Brainerd Road.

Jesse Mathews’ girlfriend faces more than 10 years in federal prison if convicted on charges she helped him during and after robberies in Colorado.

Federal prosecutors indicted Amber Vlasak-Hudson, 30, on charges of accessory after the fact, which carries up to three years in prison, and failing to report knowledge of a felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

Mathews, 26, faces first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery charges in connection with the shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin on April 2. Chapin was killed during a botched robbery attempt at the U.S. Money Shops on Brainerd Road.

Mathews’ parents, Kathleen and Ray Vance Mathews, are scheduled to plead guilty today in federal court to helping their son after he left Colorado and came to Chattanooga.

Authorities say they sold some of his stolen goods at a local gun show and area pawn shops in the weeks after his flight from Colorado. They also charged that family members hid evidence and lied to police following his arrest following Chapin’s death.

Vlasak-Hudson has been accused of finding hotel rooms for Mathews to hide in during multiple robberies of a Walgreens pharmacy and a Cash America Pawn and Loan from Feb. 11 until Feb. 15 in Colorado.

“(Mathews) was instructing (Vlasak-Hudson) to rent hotels rooms throughout Colorado Springs,” the arrest warrant states. “He would tell her to leave the room key in bushes so he could find the key and access the room.”

The Sept. 15 indictment states that Vlasak-Hudson drove Mathews around the city to dispose of clothes he wore during the Cash America robbery and then drove him to a Denver bus depot so he could flee the state.

Jesse Mathews faces the death penalty; his next state criminal court appearance is scheduled Oct. 11.

Before the Colorado robberies, Mathews lived in a halfway house under parole on an armed robbery conviction after serving seven years and eight months of a 20-year sentence.

Once he left Colorado, he met with his mother, father, sister Rachel Mathews and her boyfriend James Poteete in Asheville, N.C.

Rachel and Poteete pleaded guilty on Aug. 10 to charges they helped Jesse Mathews after he fled Colorado. Their sentencing dates are 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 ...

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