UPDATED: Judge sends Mathews case to Grand Jury - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Jesse Mathews in court

UPDATED: Judge sends Mathews case to Grand Jury

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Additional checkpoints for court appearance of accused cop killer Jesse Mathews. Additional checkpoints for court appearance of accused cop killer Jesse Mathews.
Mathews was brought into courtroom in a wheelchair. Mathews was brought into courtroom in a wheelchair.
DA Cox and witness acting out gun battle between Chapin and Mathews. DA Cox and witness acting out gun battle between Chapin and Mathews.

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 13th 5:00 pm

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - jaw wired shut, legs shackled and in a wheelchair, Jesse Mathews sat emotionless as employees of the U.S. Money Shop testified against him.

"I looked up to greet him and he was adjusting a mask he had on his face," said Zach Brakin, "and he pulled a gun and pointed it at me."

Five employees were inside the shop on Brainerd Road when Mathews is accused for trying to rob it.

"He said you better not hit a silent alarm," said Leonard Carroll, "I had already done it."

Pawn shop employees described being forced to the floor. They testified Mathews emptied the safe, then fired at police.

"We had roughly 15 holes in our door," said Brakin from the stand Wednesday.

Harlan Murray was having a yard sale when he says he saw Sergeant Tim Chapin use his taser to take Mathews down.

Murray believes drugs may have played a role in Mathews' ability to keep going.

"The officer dropped his taser, went to reach for his, the shooting started between them," said Murray, "and the officer started backing up the road."

Murray showed District Attorney Bill Cox reenacted the shootout in court. Murray told the court he heard more than a dozen shots. Chapin and Mathews were just eight feet apart.

"The officer dropped," said Murray, "and then he turned and walked away like it wasn't nothing, and started up the street."

Murray says he grabbed a gun and went after Mathews. By that time, Mathews had fallen to the ground from his injuries. He put his hands up and surrendered to other officers who arrived on scene.

"As soon as they rolled him over the officer said he was wearing a vest," added Murray.

It was in those next few moments, Officer Lorin Johnston realized he had been shot in the back. A bulletproof vest stopped the bullet from penetrating his back. He testified after going home that night he discovered he had also been shot in the leg.

Johnston, who was one of the first officers on the scene, described the moment he knew Sergeant Tim Chapin was dead.

"I got to Chapin, I had my gun on the suspect and looked at Chapin," said Johnston, "immediately I looked back up and said to myself that Sergeant Chapin was gone."

Attorneys representing Mathews say they expect a grand jury to indict him.

The state has made it clear it will request the death penalty in this case.

District Attorney Bill Cox sighted four different criteria making the case eligible for the death penalty - killing a police officer is one of them.

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 13th 1:00 pm

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) Here are the latest updates from Eyewitness News reporter Callie Starnes who was in the courtroom.

12:06 pm Jesse Mathews' attorney says it's been made clear the state will request the death penalty. DA says the case meets the criteria.

Pain meds were withheld this am so Jesse Mathews would be coherent. His mouth is wired shut, attorney says hard for him to show emotion.

When asked if her client had expressed remorse over Sgt. Chapin's death, attorney said ethically she couldn't answer.

11:45 am Judge Johnny Houston sends all charges to grand jury. No bond set. Court dismissed.

11:42 am State rests. Defense has no witnesses. DA argues there is probable cause to send case to grand jury.

Defense makes it clear they won't ask for bond.

11:41 am Jesse Mathews' attorney continues to use the phrase "I read...", obviously she's been keeping up with the local news.

11:36 am Detective says at least 4 officers fired at Jesse Mathews, an estimated 40 rounds fired.

Detective asked if Jesse Mathews gave a statement. "He was unable to talk."

11:27 am Detective takes stand. Says he recovered 2 guns and bullet proof vest from Jesse Mathews. He's being asked about Chapin's autopsy report.

"Stippling" indicated by medical examiner on report. Detective says it proves Sgt. Chapin was shot at close range.

11:24 am Jesse Mathews is being represented by 3 female attorneys. Karla Gothard, Mary Ann Green, Jane Buffaloe. All 3 appointed to case. 

11:13 am Before coming back into courtroom I witnessed Jesse Mathews' attorney pay her respects to Sgt. Chapin's dad.

11:11 am Harlan Murray says Jesse Mathews was out of breath. "I could hear him breathing".

11:07 am Neighbor pulled gun, yelled 3 times to Jesse Mathews to get down. "I thought he was on drugs...if he gets to my house he'd hurt my family."

11:03 am DA Cox and witness are acting out gun battle between Chapin and Mathews.

11:00 am After a 10 min recess man who lives behind US Money takes stand, was having a yardsale when gunfire started. "I said those aren't fireworks."

Witness: "There were like 12 or 16 shots. The officer dropped and he kept walking like it wasn't nothing."

10:25 am Employee says Kathleen Mathews sold gold rings to US Money before robbery. As WRCB reported Tuesday, she sold to other pawn shops too.

10:17am Second US Money employee, Leonard Carroll, on the stand. He describes getting in floor, seeing Mathews with gun to other employee.

Employee isn't sure how much money was in safe, thinks Mathews got more than a $1,000 from safe, more from register.

Employee says there was a customer in the store when everything happened. Said Jesse Mathews got total of $2,900.

10:10am It was a bathroom panic button that an employee used to alert police.

Employee says Mathews left the store without the money from the safe, left with only gun in hand.

Employee when asked about Mathews after police arrived: "He just kept walking. Never once did it look like he tried to run."

9:50am Mathews has not moved. He's staring straight ahead, no expression, hunched over a bit.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd in the gallery. Sitting with a few of his officers.

9:39am Employee says Jesse Mathews was hit by Chapin's car, Chapin fired taser, didn't phase him, Chapin yelled, guns went off.

Employee says Chapin and Jesse Mathews were just 15 feet from one another when shots were fired.

9:35am Employee says there were 15 bullet holes in the front door when he looked at it after robbery/shooting.

Witness says pawn shop employees took off running when gunfire started. He hid behind a transformer. Told homeless man outside to run.

9:30am US Money Shop employee takes the stand, one we haven't heard from before. He was working when robbery occurred.

Employee says masked Jesse Mathews came in, pointed gun, wanted in safe, made employees get on ground. Says voice sounded familiar.

9:12am Jesse Mathews reaches to scratch his leg and officers move closer. There are 2 with eyes on him, never looking away. 4 others watching gallery.

9:02am Jesse Mathews has drainage tubes in his chin from jaw injury. He continues to cough. Is cuffed and tied to his wheelchair at the legs.

The tension in the room is indescribable. Thinking about words I can use on air to paint the right picture. Gut-wrenching comes to mind.

8:53am Johnston describes hearing "officer down", he didn't know it was Tim Chapin until he saw him on the ground. His hands shake as he explains.

Johnston held Chapin's hand, had no idea he'd been shot too until another officer looked at his vest.

8:51am Johnston describing first shots he fired at Jesse Mathews. Says he had on a hoodie, mask when he started shooting at police.

8:42am Moon recuses himself because of poem he wrote about Sgt. Tim Chapin. Red Bank Judge Houston to take over. Moon leaves bench.

Mathews sits emotionless.

Sgt. Chapin's brother won't take his eyes off his brother's accused killer. Officer by his side trying to calm him. He's in CFD uniform.

Police tape has first row blocked off for Sgt. Tim Chapin's family.

First witness Lorin Johnston, the other officer allegedly shot by Mathews.

8:40am Mathews brought in by wheelchair. Click here to see the video.

8:35am Judge Moon takes the bench. Says he has an announcement to make.

8:20am Accused cop killer Jesse Mathews in court this am. Anyone in court, including press, must be searched.

8:15am Additional checkpoint set up outside Judge Moon's court.

I'm told "a bunch" of officers will be inside when Mathews is brought in. Anyone inside won't be allowed to leave seats.

I have never seen security this tight at Ham. Co. courts building.


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