Attorneys for the man facing a possible death sentence for the murder of Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin have filed suit in Federal Court after U.S. Attorney Bill Killian declined to allow federal prosecutor Steve Neff to appear as a defense witness at the Mathews trial.
Attorneys Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss said they want to call prosecutor Neff if the case reaches the penalty phase so he can testify about the alleged manipulative role his mother, Kathleen Mathews, has over him.
The 21-page suit says the defense wants prosecutor Neff either as a live witness or to videotape his deposition.
District Attorney Bill Cox argued vigorously against allowing the prosecutor to testify, saying it would just be “opinion” and that he knows nothing of the facts of the April 2, 2011, slaying near a pawn shop just off Brainerd Road.
Attorney Davis said in the penalty phase there can be testimony other than from “material witnesses.”
DA Cox also said he is concerned that the move would cause a delay in the trial that is scheduled for January utilizing a Davidson County jury.
Attorney Davis said federal authorities have pledged to week to get an expedited ruling on the issue.
Attorney Hoss said prosecutor Neff had stated that Ms. Mathews “personified evil” and that she taught her son how to rob people. He said her son was mentally and psychologically dependent on her.
Not to allow the testimony would be reversible error and “would guarantee there would be a second trial.”
Judge Barry Steelman indicated that he tended to agree with the defense position, but he said he would not give an opinion at this time on the issue and await the federal ruling.