Local News

Raleigh couple charged with providing alcohol to teens say case is 'discriminatory'

Posted July 14, 2015

Charles Joseph Matthews, Kimberly Hunt Matthews and Thomas Blake Matthews are each charged with providing alcohol to minors at a house party. An 18-year-old suspected to be under the influence of alcohol was killed in a vehicle accident after leaving the party.
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— A Raleigh couple accused of providing alcohol to minors at a 2014 wedding, including an 18-year-old who died after crashing into a tree, filed a motion Monday to dismiss their charges due to “intentional or deliberate discrimination” from the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.

Dr. Charles Joseph Matthews, 59, and Kimberley Hunt Matthews, 52, are charged with four counts each of aiding and abetting the consumption of alcohol by minors. Their son, Thomas Blake Matthews, 18, is charged with purchasing the alcohol, along with three counts of providing alcohol to minors.

Investigators think Jonathon Gregory Taylor was speeding and under the influence when he crashed into a tree on Hunting Ridge Road in north Raleigh on June 29, 2014. Taylor, who was pronounced dead at the scene, had just left the wedding at the Matthews’ home.

“JT Taylor was a good friend of our son, and we are still in disbelief that he is gone,” Charles and Kimberley Matthews said in a statement they released through their attorney. “Unfortunately, the confusing circumstances have been misunderstood, and we were wrongfully accused of crimes we did not commit.”

In their motion, Charles and Kimberley Matthews claim:

  • Bartenders served alcohol to underage individuals without asking for identification, but they were not charged.
  • Charges against the Wake County ABC employee who sold their son alcohol without asking for identification were dismissed.
  • Two underage women admitted consuming alcohol, but one was not prosecuted and the other had her citation dismissed.

The couple claims a bottle of Jack Daniels was bought without their knowledge, and their son, along with Taylor and two other teenagers, consumed the whiskey before the wedding. They also claim employees of the catering company served alcohol to the teenagers without their knowledge.

The couple described the prosecution’s case as “arbitrary and intentionally discriminatory.”

“Other individuals at the wedding and reception who aided and abetted the possession of alcohol by underage persons have not been prosecuted despite evidence gathered by law enforcement,” the motion said.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday that prosecutors generally meet with law enforcement and victims in determining appropriate charges in a case.

She also said she "believes in the process" of the justice system.

"Underage drinking is a very serious problem in our community that leads to the deaths of many promising young people. Until we stand together as a community against parents who have a kids-will-be-kids attitude, we will continue to lose promising young adults way too soon," Freeman said.

A trial is set for July 27.

10 Comments

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  • Gen Lee Jul 15, 2015
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    you can't just blame them. they were already drinking before the wedding started. you would have to find all the employees at the stores they bought liquor and prosecute them and anyone else that gave them liquor. The parents are not 100% liable.

  • Paul Maxwell Jul 15, 2015
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    Their property, their party, their bartender, their booze. They are 100% liable.

  • Gen Lee Jul 15, 2015
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    But they are right. No one else is getting in trouble when others gave them alcohol without asking for id. It is not just the parent's fault. They were already drinking before the wedding too, so it not entirely the parent's fault. Maybe they should have kept a closer eye on things, but they shouldn't be the only ones blamed. The kid decided to drink and he ended up dead. He is to blame too for his own actions which cost him his life.

  • John Snow Jul 15, 2015
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    I kinda see their point but, ultimately they are wrong. The event was at their house and they hired the bartenders. It is the same as if a bar served underage kids. The owner would be liable even if they didn't physically serve the alcohol. This is their house and they are responsible for what happens in it.

  • Gen Lee Jul 15, 2015
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    It is probably because they are the parents and they should know what their child is doing. But as Paul pointed out he was 18. He was responsible for his own actions. Not every parent knows what their child is doing.

  • Shannon Williams Jul 15, 2015
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    I'm conflicted bc it's hard to believe that the bartender was the only adult over 21 who knew these underage kids we're drinking. My mom just had a wedding with a bar tender and none of the 16-20 year olds we're drinking and not bc they are "angels" or the bar tender was checking Id eitner. On the other hand they shouldn't be the only ones held accountable either

  • Paul Jones Jul 14, 2015
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    Personally, I think they have a point. They didn't serve the alcohol. I think that's most significant. Second, the man who died was 18. He's too young to buy alcohol, but he's an adult who is legally responsible for his own actions.

    Maybe the prosecution needs to learn that, indeed, kids will be kids. You shouldn't go around trying to lock up everyone. In other states, it would have been legal, even, to give alcohol to somebody under 18 at home. Regardless, if they weren't serving it, it seems they're not guilty.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Jul 14, 2015
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    Does seem like "deep pockets" got the focus. Let justice prevail.

  • Jerry Powell Jul 14, 2015
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    Another case of affluenza.....

  • Sarcoi Dosis Jul 14, 2015
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    Alcohol has destroyed so many lives in this Nation.. I never touch the stuff myself. It's a personal choice, nothing to do with religion, etc. I just don't need the influence of alcohol in my life to have fun.