BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — A judge says a 58-year-old man from Slaughter is mentally disabled and therefore cannot be executed if he is convicted of killing two people at a Baton Rouge construction firm in 2009.
State District Judge Tony Marabella issued the order Friday, The Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/1B14tGg ). Lawyers for Richard Matthews had argued in court papers that Matthews has a life-long history of significant intellectual and behavioral impairment.
Marabella told Matthews he had two choices: Go to trial without the death penalty as a possible sentence, or plead guilty.
"It don't make no difference to me. I'm just a willing participant," a shackled Matthews replied. "You know I did it. Everybody in the world knows that."
Matthews has already proclaimed his guilt to police and reporters but chose to take the case to trial instead of formally pleading guilty in front of the victims' families on Friday. A guilty plea would have brought the long-standing murder case to an end more than five years after Matthews' arrest.
Marabella set a trial date of July 20.
Matthews is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted first-degree murder. Authorities say Dianna Tullie, 44, of Walker, and Cheryl Boykin, 55, of Denham Springs, were fatally shot at Grady Crawford Construction Co. on Dec. 23, 2009. A third woman was wounded.
The construction firm had fired Matthews several months before the shootings.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said it was frustrating to hear Matthews turn down a chance to plead guilty.
"My frustration is for the victims' families. I was hoping they wouldn't have to go through this scene again," he said after Friday's hearing. "It's unfortunate. These families have been very patient and understanding of the system."
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com
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