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State v. Matthews

Supreme Court of Maine

May 8, 2018

STATE OF MAINE
v.
RICHARD T. MATTHEWS JR.

          On Briefs: April 25, 2018

          Richard L. Hartley, Esq., Law Office of Richard L. Hartley, P.C., Bangor, for appellant Richard T. Matthews

          R. Christopher Almy, District Attorney, Mark A. Rucci, Asst. Dist. Atty., and Katelynn Ronan, Stud. Atty., Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶1] Richard T. Matthews Jr., a mixed martial arts fighter who repeatedly punched the victim in the head, both before and after rendering him unconscious, appeals from a judgment of conviction entered by the trial court (Penobscot County, Anderson, J.) after a jury found him guilty of aggravated assault (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(C) (2017). He argues that there was insufficient evidence presented at trial upon which the jury could have found him guilty and found his self-defense claim disproven beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm the judgment.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶2] When there is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury's verdict, we must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the State. See State v. Hall, 2017 ME 210, ¶ 29, 172 A.3d 467. On this record, the jury rationally could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt.

         [¶3] On November 28, 2015, the fifty-six-year-old victim went to Seasons, a restaurant and lounge located in Bangor, to have a beer at the bar. The bartender observed that he "was quietly drinking" and that he "didn't talk a lot." Around the same time, forty-five-year-old Matthews and his wife entered Seasons to meet with some friends.

         [¶4] At some point in the evening, the victim moved closer to and made eye contact with persons in Matthews's party who were sitting at the bar approximately twelve to fifteen feet away. Matthews became upset and told the bartender that the victim was staring. The bartender told the victim that he had upset Matthews and suggested that he stop staring. Approximately five to six minutes later, at 9:52 p.m., the victim paid his tab and left. After leaving Seasons, the victim walked across the street to another bar known as the Pour House. He ordered a beer and went outside to smoke.

         [¶5] At 10:46 p.m., Matthews cashed out his tab at Seasons and went to the Pour House. After the victim finished smoking and went back inside, Matthews grabbed the victim and led him to the door where the bouncer was standing. The bouncer told Matthews to remove his hands from the victim and asked him what was happening. Without providing a reason, Matthews told the bouncer that the victim needed to leave. The victim denied that there was a problem and briefly waited near the bouncer before returning to the bar area.

         [¶6] A few minutes later, the bouncer saw the victim leave the Pour House and cross the street. As the victim was crossing the street, Matthews went "running through the doors." The bouncer tried to grab Matthews but lost his grip. He saw Matthews run across the street, spin the victim around, and punch the victim in the face. The bouncer testified that, when Matthews spun the victim around, the victim "didn't do anything." Matthews continued to punch the victim in the face until he fell to the ground. The bouncer observed Matthews sit on top of the victim and punch him in the face approximately ten times. While observing Matthews attack the victim, the bouncer directed someone inside the bar to call 9-1-1.

         [¶7] A patron of the Pour House, who was walking back from a nearby parking lot, came upon Matthews punching the victim while on top of him. From five or six feet away, she saw Matthews punch the victim in the face "over and over again, " approximately eight to ten times. She stated that the victim appeared to be unconscious because he was lying on the ground and he "wasn't moving at all" and "wasn't defending himself." After the patron and the bouncer yelled at Matthews to stop, Matthews stood up and returned to the Pour House.

         [¶8] When officers of the Bangor Police Department arrived, the victim was still lying on the ground. One of the responding officers who had known the victim since the officer was five ...


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