Trial underway in officer's death

Reported by Claire Simms – bio |email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - One of the most high profile trials in New Hanover County in recent memory is underway.

Anthony Pierce faces a second degree murder charge in the death of Wilmington Police Officer Richard Matthews. 

Matthews was on his way to assist another officer, who was chasing Pierce, when Matthews lost control of his patrol car on Shipyard Boulevard, crashed into a tree and died.

[Click here to see the indictment against Pierce]

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.

Court has adjourned for the day.  Check back for updates beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. 

UPDATE 4:27 p.m.

The prosecution's second witness is Sergeant Will Richards.  He was the officer pursuing Anthony Pierce on the night Richard Matthews died.  He was also the supervisor in charge of Matthews that night. 

Richards has an extensive background in vice and narcotics.

"There's a large amount of drug activity in this community," explained Sgt. Richards.  "It's here and it's here to stay."

UPDATE 4:05 p.m.

The prosecution's first witness was Richard Matthews' father, Dennis Matthews.  He said Richard loved being a Wilmington Police Officer and it was a second family for him. 

Matthews testified that just after 4:00 a.m. on February 18th, 2009, he was woken up by someone pounding on his front door.  He said he looked out the window and saw two police cars "nose to nose" in front of his house. 

"I knew at that point what had happened," said Dennis Matthews.

UPDATE 3:52 p.m.

Defense Attorney Andrew Waters waived his right to make an opening statement. 

UPDATE 3:28 p.m.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Carriker is handling opening arguments for the prosecution.  He is describing the events of February 18th, 2009, the night Officer Richard Matthews died.

"That was the last day that Officer Matthews, at the height of his health, in love with the law enforcement career, that was the last day that he served our city," Carriker explained to the jury. 

Carriker told the jury that they will see the dashboard camera video from that night at some point during the trial. 

UPDATE 3:11 p.m.

A jury has been chosen and sworn in for the trial.  The defense and the prosecution should now give their opening statements.

UPDATE 3:07 p.m.

One of the main issues the attorneys concentrate on in picking jurors for this case is the potential juror's relationship with law enforcement officers.  Both the defense and the prosecution have asked whether the potential jurors know police officers personally, whether they are related to an officer or are friends with any officers.

Attorneys for both sides have said that many of the people who testify in this case will be Wilmington Police officers. 

District Attorney Ben David wanted to know whether the jurors respect law enforcement.

The defense asked jurors if they would be more likely to believe testimony from a police officer than from a regular citizen.

UPDATE 2:40 p.m.

The Judge just released one of the alternate jurors from the case.  Now, District Attorney Ben David is questioning another pool of potential jurors.  Opening arguments should begin once a jury is seated. 


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