An attorney for a Slaughter man accused of killing two women and wounding another at a Baton Rouge construction firm in December 2009 said Friday he is considering raising an insanity defense.
Richard Matthews, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder, made a brief court appearance Friday and is scheduled to return to court Aug. 26.
“At the next court date, there is a possibility of a change of plea,’’ Assistant Public Defender Nelvil Hollingsworth, lead attorney for Matthews, told state District Judge Tony Marabella.
Prosecutor Darwin Miller told the judge that Hollingsworth was referring to a possible dual plea.
Hollingsworth said after court that Matthews, who previously pleaded not guilty, may add a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
“It (an insanity defense) is certainly an option that I am examining at this time,’’ Hollingsworth said.
“I’m actively pursuing an investigation into his mental health, both past and present,’’ he added.
Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty against Matthews.
Matthews, 54, was fired from Grady Crawford Construction Co. several months before clerical workers Dianna Tullier, 44, of Walker, and Cheryl D. Boykin, 55, of Denham Springs, were shot to death Dec. 23, 2009, at the Greenwell Springs Road business.
Matthews allegedly wounded a female dispatcher before shooting Tullier and Boykin.
While deputies were escorting him from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office the day of the shootings, Matthews told reporters, “I was trying to get my unemployment, but they wouldn’t give me my unemployment. … I would never have did that.’’
Two weeks later at his first court appearance, Marabella asked Matthews if he had funds to hire a lawyer, and Matthews replied, “If I did, I wouldn’t be here.’’
Hollingsworth acknowledged Friday that Matthews’ “simultaneous confession’’ is problematic for the defense and a possible insanity claim, but he added that Matthews’ complaint with the company does not square with the severity of the crime.
“They don’t match,’’ he said.
One of the attempted murder counts accuses Matthews of trying to kill Trey Crawford, a son of the owner of Grady Crawford Construction. Trey Crawford was not at the business when Matthews arrived that afternoon but allegedly was the intended target, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said.
An affidavit of probable cause says Matthews told a deputy he “did not mean to shoot anyone other than the owner’s son.’’
Matthews was fired by the owner’s son because of poor work performance, the affidavit states.
Matthews had worked as a laborer at the business for five years. The day he was terminated, Matthews told someone at the company that they had not heard the last of him, but the remark was not reported to the Sheriff’s Office until Dec. 23, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux has said.