Opening statements delivered Tuesday in court for the 6th Judicial District
A criminal defense attorney told jurors on Tuesday that Damon Lamont Mathews acted out of impulse, passion and haste when he killed his wife on New Years Eve 2020 in Ignacio, and is therefore not guilty of murder on the first premeditated degree, as prosecutors claim.
But prosecutors said Damon Lamont Mathews had a previous domestic violence conviction and was out on bail for a third domestic violence case when he killed 47-year-old Rachel Philips Mathews. He strangled his wife for about three minutes before retrieving a 9mm handgun and shooting her at close range. on the front, Assistant District Attorney Vance Davis told jurors during opening statements in the 6th Judicial District Court in Durango.
Mathews, 45, is charged with 10 counts, including first-degree murder, felony assault, intimidation of a witness, retaliation against a witness and possession of a weapon by a former offender, among other counts .
He faces life in prison if convicted of first degree murder.
The shooting death is believed to have occurred shortly after 11 p.m. on December 31, 2020, in the 100 block of Romero Avenue.
Mathews was released from jail on Dec. 25 and two days later began living in a studio apartment behind his wife’s home in violation of a restraining order, according to court documents and testimony.
Mathews and Rachel, known by her maiden name, Ream, were hanging out in the studio on New Year’s Eve. They got into a fight and she returned to the main house.
Around 11 p.m., Ream returned to the studio and she and Mathews began to fight again. Mathews implored Ream to shut up lest neighbors hear arguments and call the police, which would send him back to jail for breaching a protective order.
The argument turned physical, with Mathews strangling Ream for about three minutes, cutting off his airway, he told investigators. Mathews then retrieved a handgun from his bedroom and returned to the studio and shot him in the head, he told an investigator.
Williams then took her car and drove to Littleton and Denver. He took methamphetamine with a stranger and then drove the car until a tire burst, defense attorneys say. He then called police from a Safeway and admitted he likely had a warrant issued for killing his wife.
Public defender Kellan Schmelz said Mathews should be held accountable for his actions, but not for the charges brought by prosecutors. He said Mathews acted in the heat of the moment, a lesser offense punishable by 10 to 32 years in prison. Likewise, he said he did not assault, intimidate or retaliate against the victim.
Mathews, who is in custody, wore a light-collared shirt and blue pants on Tuesday. He was seated at a table next to his attorneys and appeared to be attentive and taking notes during opening statements.
Fourteen people sit on the jury, including two alternates.
The trial is expected to last all week. District Judge Suzanne Carlson is overseeing the case.