Tuesday, September 8, 2015
I have written before about some of the other first-degree murder cases that Cristina Gutierrez was handling at the same time that she was handling the Adnan Syed case. We can now add another to the roster: State v. Matthews.
Here is a letter that Gutierrez sent to the Security Chief at the Detention Center where Adnan was incarcerated:
The Matthews case is definitely a sad one. On March 13, 1999, Matthews was charged with first-degree murder based upon the death of his five-month old son. According to the Baltimore Sun article on the case:
The state medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide Thursday.
Polaris' mother, Kimberly Johnson, could not be reached for comment. Matthews' attorney, Sheldon Rubenstein, said his client told him "it was an accident. He didn't realize the water was that hot."
Police said Matthews bathed Polaris about 3:30 p.m. Feb. 5 and noticed the child's skin peeling when he was drying him.
Police said he immediately called Johnson, his girlfriend and the child's mother, who came home from work and found that the child had blisters and burn marks.
The couple and Johnson's mother took the baby to University of Maryland Medical Center about 8 p.m. He was later transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Police said they went to the home and found that the temperature of the bathwater was between 146 and 150.
Court documents filed yesterday said Matthews told police that he filled the bathtub with hot water and then added cold water. "The defendant stated that he tested the water prior to placing the child in the water and that the water was not hot enough to burn the child," the documents said.
Because the victim was a child, Matthews would have been eligible to receive the death penalty if the prosecution pursued it. Instead, from court records, it appears that Matthews pleaded guilty to the lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter on October 21, 1999 and was sentenced to ten years incarceration, starting on February 7, 2000. This means that, barring any other infractions, Matthews was likely released from incarceration at the latest on February 7, 2010.
The judge who handled the Matthews case was none other than Judge William Quarles, who was the reason for the mistrial at Adnan's first trial on December 15, 2000 based upon calling Gutierrez a liar. The Matthews case makes me wonder whether that comment was based not only on behavior that occurred during Adnan's trial but also during the Matthews proceedings.