Next hearing in Jesse Mathews trial set for end of August (with video)

Next hearing in Jesse Mathews trial set for end of August (with video)

June 20th, 2012 by Todd South in News

Jesse Mathews, accused of killing Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin last year, is led by court officers into Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom Tuesday as lawyers meet in advance of his upcoming trial.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

The next hearing in preparation for the trial of a federal fugitive charged in the shooting death of a local police sergeant is scheduled for Aug. 30.

Jesse Mathews, 27, faces the death penalty if convicted on the first-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting death of Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin on April 2, 2011.

Mathews' attorney, Lee Davis, met with prosecutors Tuesday before Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman to review a list of 53 pretrial motions and a jury questionnaire.

Many of the motions deal with constitutional rights concerns, prosecutor Neal Pinkston told Steelman. The motions record steps taken to ensure both sides in the case are upholding their legal duties ahead of the trial.

Mathews' trial is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2013.

Steelman met in chambers with the attorneys after the 30-minute courtroom hearing to discuss the jury questionnaire and other details of the pending case.

Chapin's father, mother, brother, wife and other family members attended the brief hearing and met afterward with District Attorney Bill Cox, the lead prosecutor.

Forty-eight of the motions already have been agreed to by both sides. After the hearing, Davis said it's likely that half the remaining motions will be agreed upon by both sides before the August hearing. The remaining six motions will be argued before Steelman at the next hearing.

Cox and Pinkston declined to comment on the pending case.

An index of the motions was filed with the court Tuesday and not immediately available for review.

Before the trial, attorneys for both sides will present a final questionnaire with several hundred questions for prospective jurors to the Davidson County Criminal Court. The trial will use jurors from outside the area to avoid any possible taint from pretrial publicity.

Davis said the questionnaire will be answered by 100 or more jurors who will then be a part of the jury selection in January before the trial begins.

Davis has hired a jury consultant for the trial, but declined to discuss specifics of the process.

According to reports, on the day he was killed, Chapin knocked Mathews to the ground with his patrol car as the man fled the U.S. Money Shops on Brainerd Road after a botched robbery.

Mathews had left a halfway house in Colorado where he was serving parole on previous armed robbery convictions, according to court documents. Colorado authorities said Mathews committed at least two other robberies before fleeing the state with the help of his sister Rachel Mathews and a then-girlfriend.

Rachel, her boyfriend James Poteete, and Mathews' mother Kathleen and father Ray Vance all pleaded guilty to federal charges related to their helping Mathews as he avoided police during his fugitive flight.

Kathleen received 30 years, Ray Vance received 20 years, Rachel received 11 and Poteete received six years. All have appealed.