RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A jury found the Raleigh couple not guilty of providing alcohol to teenagers at a wedding party, including to an 18-year-old who was killed that night while driving home drunk.
Dr. Charles and Kimberley Matthews were charged with four counts of aiding and abetting the consumption of alcohol by minors at a wedding reception at their home in June 2014.
Johnathon Taylor was killed while driving home drunk after the wedding party.
The Matthews’ son, Thomas, was also charged with proving alcohol to minors. He pleaded guilty earlier this week to one count of underage purchase of alcohol, a misdemeanor. After the judge read the verdict just before noon Friday, Thomas Matthews was sentenced to probation until he turns 21.
Thomas Matthews will have a suspended license for a year and must complete 40 hours of community service within six months.
— Eileen Park (@EileenParkTV) July 31, 2015
The Matthews stood motionless as the verdict was read.
Hart Miles, the attorney for the Matthews, said, “They take no joy in the verdict. They are thankful that it’s over. They are thankful for the thoughtful consideration of the jury.”
The Matthews did not speak to the media after the verdict, nor did their son.
The Matthews’ defense attorneys had tried to get the case dismissed twice, once after a photo of Taylor’s dead body was shown in court and then again Thursday for insufficient evidence.
Both motions were denied by the judge in the case.
In closing arguments Thursday afternoon, the state said the Matthews were responsible for what happened.
“They provided the atmosphere,” prosecutor Jason Waller said. “They could have put a stop to it and they didn’t.”
The Matthews provided “an atmosphere of acceptance that it’s OK that this is going on over here. … The teenagers went to this house for a reason,” Waller said.
Waller said the Matthews “did absolutely nothing” to stop the kids from drinking in their home.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing discreet about this,” Waller said. “They allowed other people’s kids to come to their home and they didn’t take care of them.”
But defense attorneyMiles said the prosecution’s assertion that the Matthews “didn’t take action” when there was evidence the teens were intoxicated wasn’t correct.
“The evidence doesn’t indicate that,” Miles said.
Miles said the Matthews hired a respected Raleigh company to handle the bar tending, and had two bartenders for just one bar, with the implication being there would be plenty of oversight.
“There wasn’t any evidence that the Matthews gave them instructions to serve Thomas and his friends,” Miles said.
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