Jesse Mathews Pleads Guilty To Chapin Slaying; Gets Life In Prison Without Parole

Friday, November 30, 2012
Jesse Mathews in front of Judge Barry Steelman
Jesse Mathews in front of Judge Barry Steelman
- photo by Brent McDonald (See video on NewsChannel 9)

Jesse Mathews pleaded guilty on Friday afternoon to killing Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin.

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to six different charges - first-degree murder, felony murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. He received an additional 25 years beyond the life sentence.

The state had been seeking the death penalty against him.

Mathews gave up all of his appeal rights.

Judge Barry Steelman asked Mathews if he understood that the pleas meant "life in prison without parole." Mathews said, "I understand."

Judge Steelman had been planning to try the case here starting on Jan. 23 using a Nashville jury.

Sgt. Chapin was shot and killed near a pawn shop on Brainerd Road on April 4, 2011.

Prosecutors said members of the Chapin family went along with the plea deal.

Sgt. Chapin left behind a wife, son and daughter.

A large number of police officers were in the courtroom for the guilty plea, including Lorin Johnston, who was shot by Mathews during the same incident.

Mathews is a former Colorado parolee whose family had moved to Chattanooga after he skipped out of a halfway house and committed several new armed robberies.

The plea deal will end a lawsuit that defense attorneys Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss filed in Federal Court seeking to have prosecutor Steve Neff testify at the sentencing phase of the Mathews trial. Also in that case, the attorneys asked Federal Judge Sandy Mattice to testify.

Both prosecutor Neff and Judge Mattice declined to testify.   

District Attorney Bill Cox and chief assistant Neal Pinkston handled the case for the state.

Police had arrived quickly on the scene of the holdup at the U.S. Money Shop near Big Lots. Sgt. Chapin was among those following Mathews on a narrow road nearby. Apparently, they exchanged shots and Mathews dropped the gun he was using. However, he then reached for a second gun that he had on him and he shot Sgt. Chapin in the forehead.

Mathews was captured a short distance away by a nearby resident, who forced him to kneel until police arrived. 


Former Police Detective Nabbed In TBI Theft, Misconduct Investigation

Special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for a former police department investigator accused of theft and misconduct while on duty. After receiving information from the Morristown Police Department, 3 rd  District Attorney General Dan Armstrong requested TBI special agents investigate Michael Nelson Hurt on Feb. 2. During the ... (click for more)

David Jolley, Jr. Arrested In Bradley County On Burglary Charges

Bradley County patrol deputies and detectives have arrested a suspect who has been linked to two home burglaries and damage to a third. Residents of Grays Ferry Road in rural northern Bradley County discovered forced entry to their homes when they returned on Wednesday. Crime scene investigators developed a solid lead on a possible suspect, who lives less than a mile away. ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response (2)

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Never Disturb The Dead

I’ve got too many things in my life that scare me so I’ve always been real leery of “unnecessary fear.” A guy named Terry wanted to teach me how to catch a live rattlesnake one time but had a tough time telling me what exactly to do with the angry serpent when the time came to let it go. I have the same view of these paranormal societies where otherwise sane people go around looking ... (click for more)

Jeff Parker Uses Running As Great Source Of Quiet Time

A lot of people run for the social aspect while others run because they’re competitive and just want to see how fast they can cover the distance, especially in a race. Jeff Parker doesn’t fit into either category. He’s been running for more than 30 years and he’s quick to say that he enjoys it more now than ever, but his sole purpose is for time alone when he can meditate ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Playing For Division Championship Saturday

The Chattanooga Football Club final home game will be played this Saturday.    With a 4-2 win over the Knoxville Force, Chattanooga controls its own destiny for a 1st place division finish when it faces off against that Nashville FC this Saturday, July 4 at Finley Stadium.  A win secures the division championship for the CFC with a home-field advantage for the ... (click for more)