published Friday, October 26th, 2012

Judge for now denies request to delay Jesse Mathews' death penalty trial

A criminal court judge denied for now defense attorneys for Jesse Mathews request to delay his death penalty trial while problems that have arisen in federal court are worked out.

Judge Barry Steelman told Mathews' attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss, that jurors in Davidson County had already been summoned and they would continue with the Nov. 7 date to present a jury questionnaire and begin preparations for the Jan. 22, 2013, trial.

Davis had argued Monday and continued that argument this afternoon that U.S. Attorney Bill Killian's refusal to allow his prosecutor Steve Neff to be interviewed for Mathews' mitigation would result in "reversible errors" that would likely result in an appeal immediately following the outcome of Mathews' trial.

Neff prosecuted Mathews' mother, father, sister and sister's boyfriend for crimes related to his fugitive flight from Colorado and later shooting of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin.

During Kathleen Mathews' sentencing, Neff said as Jesse's mother she had manipulated him and others to do her bidding.

Davis wants that investigation, testimony and basis for those statements for use in his client’s possible mitigation defense during the sentencing phase of his trial if he is found guilty.

Mathews faces a death penalty trial on Jan. 22, with jury selection in Nashville.

He was charged with first-degree murder in the April 2, 2011, shooting death of Chapin during a botched robbery at the U.S. Money Shops on Brainerd Road.

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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