published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Judge declines request to testify for Jesse Mathews

 U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice
U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

U.S. District Judge Harry S. “Sandy” Mattice has denied Jesse Mathews’ request that he testify in the accused cop-killer’s pending trial.

In a letter sent to Mathews’ attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss, Mattice said he had thoroughly considered the Nov. 15 request but cited federal guidelines that say judges “may not provide testimony” except under certain circumstances.

Mattice didn’t find that Mathews’ request met the requirements outlined in the guidelines.

Mathews faces a death penalty trial for charges he killed Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin during a robbery of a Brainerd Road money shop on April 2, 2011.

He first requested that Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Neff testify because Neff prosecuted his mother, father, sister and sister’s boyfriend. Mathews’ mother received 30 years for her involvement in related crimes. Neff characterize her as evil and said she manipulated Mathews.

Mattice sentenced Mathews’ family.

Davis and Hoss hope to use testimony from Neff and Mattice in the potential penalty phase of the trial to influence a jury not to give their client the death penalty if he is found guilty.

On Tuesday Mattice recused himself from continuing to hear the federal defense request that Davis and Hoss filed to compel Neff to testify.

The federal issue will likely be heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier.

Mathews’ state death penalty trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2013, but could be delayed if the federal issue isn’t resolved, Davis has said in court.

For more see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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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