Judge rules Richard Matthews competent to assist in defense

Richard Matthews
Richard Matthews

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A district court judge ruled Tuesday morning a man accused of walking into his former place of employment and opening fire will be allowed to assist in his own defense.

Judge Tony Marabella said the psychological evaluations of Richard Matthews, 55, confirmed his decision.

"There's a lot to discuss here," said District Attorney Hillar Moore. "We're talking about a death penalty case with several people killed and a lot of others injured. A lot of lawyers appointed for the defense, so there is just a lot of things to discuss. We're talking competency and I'm assuming the next move will be mental retardation, so there was a lot to discuss today."

If convicted, Matthews faces the death penalty. Defense attorneys had no comment on the ruling.

Marabella was expected to hand down a ruling during a sanity hearing for Matthews in July, but the hearing was delayed because the psychiatrist did not show up for court. He was initially set to appear for a sanity hearing in April, but it was also delayed. The reason for that continuance was not given.

Matthews faces two counts of first-degree murder for a shooting at Grady Crawford Construction near Central two days before Christmas in 2009. Dianna Tullier, 44, of Walker and Cheryl Boykin, 55, of Denham Springs were shot to death. A third woman was also shot, but survived.

In January, Marabella ordered three psychiatrists to evaluate Matthews. The prosecution requested the evaluation. Defense attorneys objected but to no avail. Matthews has stated to the media several times that he actually meant to kill his former boss.

"I went in there to kill Trey Crawford, that's who I went in there to kill," Matthews has said. "I was going to the back and they went to hollering. I panicked."

He has also expressed remorse in the deadly shooting.

"I feel sorry for the family, I didn't want to do that," Matthews said as he left the courtroom in July 2010. "If I would have gotten my unemployment, wouldn't none of this have happened. "I'm willing to give up my life for what I did. I know I did wrong. I just wanted my unemployment. I couldn't pay my rent. I lost my job."

He pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in April. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty if Matthews is convicted of first-degree murder. Louisiana law does not allow him to plead guilty to first-degree murder with the death penalty on the table.

"It wasn't worth it. I took them people's lives. I'm going to give my life up for it. I'm going to die for it. I don't mind dying for it," he added.

The day he was arrested he did not try to deny the charges, even giving an explanation why the shooting happened.

"I got fired with two more guys. Three of us got fired, two of them got their unemployment. I didn't get my unemployment. I don't understand that. We all got fired the same day. That's all I wanted was my unemployment," he said.

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