Local News

Body of deceased teen accidentally shown in court

Posted July 29, 2015

— Defense attorney Hart Miles asked Superior Court Judge Osmond Smith to declare a mistrial in the case against Dr. Charles and Kimberly Matthews Wednesday afternoon after the prosecutor inadvertently showed a photo of a teen who died in a car accident after drinking at the Matthews home.

The Matthewses are charged with supplying alcohol to minors at a June 2014 wedding party. Jonathan "JT" Gregory Taylor, 18, died that night when his vehicle hit a tree.

When the photo of Taylor’s corpse appeared on the courtroom projection screen, his mother, Connie Taylor, gasped, then immediately doubled over and began crying. His father, Greg Taylor, immediately ran out of the courtroom.

Miles argued that the prosecution's use of the photo, although accidental, and the reaction from the Taylors was prejudicial to his client.

After meeting with Miles and Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller, Smith asked each juror whether he or she could discount the photo and the reaction in ultimately deciding whether the Matthewses are guilty. All answered yes, and Smith denied the motion for a mistrial.

Much of the afternoon testimony came from law enforcement officers who responded to either the Matthews' home or the Hunting Ridge Road crash scene.

Raleigh Police Officer Pete Manukas, a crash reconstruction specialist, told the court that he estimated JT Taylor's BMW was going about 89 mph when it left the roadway.

Adults saw teens drinking at Matthews' wedding

Earlier Wednesday, Sharon Beineke, an English teacher at Ravenscroft High School, said she noticed some of her former students at the party with wine glasses.

"I spoke to them and said, 'This is awkward. Don't you think this is awkward?" Beineke said. "One said, 'You can't do anything, Mrs. B. We've graduated, and we're not your kids."

A wedding photographer testified he saw the teens drinking throughout the night and had a conversation with them late in the party. He said they were hard to understand because they were so impaired.

Wedding guest Brian Johnson testified that he urged JT Taylor to get a ride home.

"I blatantly asked him, 'What are you on?' He said he was inebriated and he was stoned," Johnson said.

The question before the jury is whether the Matthews are criminally responsible for providing that alcohol. Each faces four counts of aiding and abetting the consumption of alcohol by minors.

"This trial is about the Matthewses and what they did that night to allow this to happen," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller said Tuesday. "Your responsibility is to figure out: Could they have put a stop to this?"

The Matthews' attorney, Hart Miles, tried to distance the couple from the underage drinking during his opening statement. He called the teens who drank at the party "selfish, inconsiderate, reckless" and said the couple had little interaction with their younger guests.

Before the trial began, Miles moved to dismiss the charges against his clients on that argument, but a judge denied his request.

Thomas Matthews was charged along with his parents, but he pleaded guilty before their trial began. He will be sentenced after the trial of his parents.


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  • Belle Boyd Jul 30, 2015
    user avatar

    I made an error in a previous comment and I would like to correct it. I stated that homicide is the deliberate/unlawful killing.... I did mean to put deliberate in there, but I should of put it in ( ). I was trying to point out that this case would not be considered a homicide because of the definition. In most homicide cases it is deliberate, but it was pointed out I shouldn't have put deliberate in the sentence. For that I am sorry. I should have paid closer to attention to what I was doing. My bad. I tried to correct it the best way I could.

  • Belle Boyd Jul 30, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yes... usually it is defined as the unlawful killing of another and in most cases it is deliberate. It is still unlawful to kill someone, self defense is just a defense. It is an excuse.
    But my point to that was the family didn't kill him so it wouldn't be homicide. (that is why I put that definition)

  • Paul Jones Jul 30, 2015
    user avatar

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    Yes, it was madd lobbying. Mother lost her son in much the same way as this boy drinking Jack Daniels. And when idle people go try to tackle a problem they see, it gets addressed. I am all for stopping drunk driving, but not changing the drinking age.

    Many, many countries allow drinking under 21. Many states allow consumption at home. I was at a church in Europe that even sold wine. Alcohol is only viewed as evil in America.

    This boy in this case killed himself by drinking. He was an adult who chose to drink. This is nobody's responsibility, except his. The alcohol that made him drunk want even served by the bartenders at the event!

  • Shannon Williams Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    All these adults that saw these underage kids drinking but fail to call the cops, their parents or let the bar tender know that they we're under age failed them and need to take some responsibility for what happened

  • Paul Parker Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Nope! Homicide is simply the killing of another human being, and it can be lawful or unlawful. I realize that Google seems to define it as "the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another; murder." However Google is incorrect in this case (although that would be one form of homicide). We can see that homicide is not necessarily unlawful in the fact that there is such a thing as Justifiable homicide (example: self defense) which is not unlawful. Also every dictionary I could find, including Merriam-Webster, Oxford English, Dictionary.com, and FindLaw.com all define it simply as "the act of killing another person".

  • Brian Hill Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

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    Homicide does not require deliberation. It simply is the unlawful killing of another person, regardless of whether it was deliberate or not.

  • Megan Alto Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    OMG - that is aweful. Those poor parents...they have been through enough and now have this in this mind. Horrible!

  • Johan Summer Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    With just the few pics that were shown on the news, and the fact that the Matthews' son bought alcohol, there is absolutely no way they did not know underage kids were drinking on "their property." They are, therefore, liable and responsible. Such a tragedy for the Taylor family, and to have this picture be shown today was horrible. My Prayers continue to be with the Taylors.

  • Jim Frei Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    The whole point of this trial hinges on whether or not the Matthews knew the kids were drinking. One cannot be held liable for negligence if they were unaware.

    I would say the kids were legally drunk after drinking the fifth of Jack before any alcohol was consumed at the house.

    This whole dram shop law needs to be revamped. That frat boy at UNC used a fake ID - good enough to fool the bouncer - yet the bartender will probably be charged with serving a minor, even though he depended on someone else to screen the customers. That ain't right.

    Lower the drinking age to 18 yo and most of these problems go away. Kids today are too coddled to learn how to drink responsibly.

  • Mike Hill Jul 29, 2015
    user avatar

    The DA has painted himself into a corner by overcharging, and now he shows this unfortunate photo. Ineptitude at its finest.