The federal judge in Jesse Mathews' federal death penalty trial has recused himself from a defense request in the case.
U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice issued his ruling Tuesday, recusing himself from an Administrative Procedures Act complaint filed by attorneys for Jesse Ray Mathews.
Mathews will be tried on murder charges in January for the shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin in a botched robbery on April 2, 2011. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
Mathews first requested that Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Neff be interviewed for use in the potential penalty phase of his trial.
Neff's boss, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian, denied that request. Mathews' attorneys, Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss, filed the federal complaint seeking a ruling that would compel Neff to testify.
Neff prosecuted Mathews' mother, father, sister and sister's boyfriend for crimes related to Mathews' fugitive status before the shooting.
In those cases, Neff said and wrote that Mathews' mother was an evil manipulator and had control over others, especially Jesse Mathews.
Mattice heard the case and sentenced the family in federal court.
Earlier this month Mathews both requested that Mattice be interviewed in the death penalty case and that the judge recuse himself.
For more see tomorrow's Times Free Press.