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Gazette Premium Content Parents of Springs man accused in officer shooting plans plea deals

Staff reports Updated: September 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The parents of a Colorado Springs man accused of shooting a Chattanooga police officer have agreed to plea deals on federal charges that include helping him hide guns, records show.

Both Kathleen Mathews and Ray Vance Mathews are charged with helping their then-fugitive son, 25-year-old Jesse Mathews, avoid arrest before Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin was gunned down April 2 during an attempted pawn shop robbery.

State prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against their son, who was on the lam from a Colorado Springs halfway house when Chapin was shot.

Court records show the couple's change of plea hearing is Sept. 21. Their attorneys did not return messages seeking comment.

The charges carry maximum possible penalties of more than 50 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole said Tuesday that a plea agreement provides a likely sentence reduction if the judge agrees they have "accepted responsibility for their acts."

Poole said the accused escapee's parents are pleading to the same charges, including conspiring to obstruct justice by concealing firearms, hindering their son's apprehension and transferring firearms to him.

Kathleen Mathews, 57, has a prior manslaughter conviction.

Their daughter, Rachel Mathews, 21, of Asheville, N.C., and her boyfriend, James David Poteete, 26, of Nashville, have already pleaded guilty. In return for having seven charges dropped, they each agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and law enforcement.

Poteete is free on bond pending the Nov. 14 sentencing.

Records show Jesse Mathews left the Colorado halfway house where he was in custody as a parolee after serving eight years of a 20-year sentence. He committed armed robberies in January and February while in custody at the halfway house.

The records show that after the robberies in Colorado, Rachel Mathews traveled to meet her brother and helped him evade arrest by "moving with him from hotel room to hotel room" and used false names to buy bus tickets. She and her brother traveled to Nashville, where Poteete picked them up and was paid to drive them to North Carolina.

An investigator testified at a previous hearing that Jesse Mathews received family help during other previous criminal cases, including a truck theft when he was 15 years old. Ray Mathews took the vehicle to a parking lot and left it. When Jesse Mathews was 17, the investigator said he committed several armed robberies in Colorado and his father hid a gun that was used and substituted a BB gun when police investigated.

Court filings include a federal agent's affidavit that states Jesse Mathews was in Chattanooga March 27 and called his father, asking him to bring firearms known as "the family collection." Mathews then went to a gun show where he traded three stolen firearms for an M-4 assault rifle.

After the April 2 shooting, police recovered an M-4 semi-automatic rifle in a guitar case that was inside a car.

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