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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The NC Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow in the case of a man convicted of killing a Wilmington Police officer.

A jury convicted Anthony Pierce last year of second-degree murder. Pierce’s refusal to stop for police led to a chase in February 2009. Ofc. Rich Matthews died after his cruiser crashed as he swerved to avoid a box in the road as he tried to join the chase.

Court filings show the appeal is based on 10 arguments, including jury instructions, evidence allowed at trial and ineffective counsel.

Comment on this Story

  • The Realist

    Why aren’t the Police Academy and the Wilmington Police Dept. training department, co-defendants in this case? If this man is guilty of murder because the officer was driving erractically trying to join in a police chase, why aren’t those who supposedly gave the officer driver training also responsible?
    I guess the next one will be a guy who kills his wife for running around with another man, and the other man is found guilty of murder because he cause the husband to become angry.
    Try the defendant for what he actually did and mourn the officer for who he was and the tragedy of his death.

  • Guest20

    What the defendant actually did was cause the death of a police officer. The police officer wouldn’t have been speeding if this guy hadn’t broken the law. He’s going to get what he deserves. Unfortunately, that’s not the case of the officer.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    Why not Google the term “Felony Murder” and read how a defendant can be charged with murder if anyone dies because of the defendent’s actions while commiting a totally separate felony.

    You pull a gun on a teller during a bank robbery, she clutches her chest and falls over dead from a heart attack, YOU can be cahrged with murder.

    It’s nothing new. It’s been a basic law for a long, long time.

  • Guest1234

    First of all I send out prayers to the family and friends of the fallen police officer. With that said nobody told him to drive in excess of 100mph to pursue anyone. He was far away from the chase as it was. He made the decision to drive that fast and in doing so it cost him his life. It was a unfortunate event and should be a lesson to others out there who want to drive on our roads like that. Second, the man who is charged should just face his charges of the incident but I can’t believe they can charge him with the officers death. I don’t believe that is right. Third, our roads here are horrible and shouldn’t be used to chase anyone. They can get the tag number and chase them down that way. The ones who were chasing him were enough. Unless the guy was coming the police officers way where he could have blocked the road, then the police officer made a wrong decision.


    should have NOT been driving at those speeds and it was not the defendants fault the officer could not handle the speed. Lack of training was the culprit and if memory serves me correct he lost control trying to avoid a box, well just run over the box..bad driving judment was the reason for the wreck.

  • I worry at the climate of the comments made here. This police officer was doing his job and the perp deserves to pay for beginning something that had a terrible ending. It’s that simple. How many of you would be so gracious if this individual had assaulted someone or even killed someone you loved and the police initiated pursuit. Wouldn’t you want that perp caught? Wouldn’t you hope that the officer went as fast as he could to catch him? You see, the level or severity of the crime really doesn’t matter. Officers are trained to do their jobs and without them, you would have 10,000 of these bozos walking around doing whatever they please. Do you want the perp to be in charge or the police to be in charge? It’s your decision.

  • Your Call

    Since you are so disgruntled that a person is being charged for murder because a police officer was trying to make a difference, I suggest that all law enforcement take a week off. That’s right, seven straight days! Then let see what you would have to say. Then you can send out your prayers for all the people that were killed, raped, robbed, assaulted, etc. You may think it could never happen, but you can only spit in the face of the men and women who protect us for so long before they say, “You’re on you own”

  • guesty

    I will answer all your points.

    First, it was Officer Matthews job and duty to provide backup to the officer that was pursuing Pierce.

    Second, if Pierce had just stopped like a normal person would have done; IE non criminal, Officer Matthews would not have been driving as fast to provide backup. All actions are related to Pierces’ actions.

    Third how swell would that work to jot down the tag and let the vehicle go to find out it is a stolen tag that hadn’t been reported as stolen yet? And then if it wasn’t a stolen tag, how do you prove who was driving the vehicle? Lawyers love the term “reasonable doubt”. In court they wouldn’t have to prove Pierce wasn’t driving, they would only have to put out there that since the WPD didn’t actually stop the vehicle, they don’t know who was driving. It might have been one of his many cousins he frequently loans his vehicle to. Or could say the keys are often left in the vehicle, maybe somebody took it for a joy ride. But when he is caught in the drivers seat, on video, it is hard to then say it isn’t you that decided to run from the police. You say the ones who were chasing him were enough, there was only one officer directly behind Pierce and that is why Officer Matthews was responding at that rate of speed.

  • Challengetheworld


    In the state of North Carolina if a homicide occurs as a result of your commision of a felony you can be charged with Murder. The person with poor judgement is the offender.

    This officer was protecting you and your other “ILM natives”. He is dead now so show some respect.

  • Reply22

    I’m not sure if I want them speeding to my rescue because, if something happens to them then I would be held liable! Why not charge the manufacture of the box in the road or the group who is responsible for training the police!! This makes no sense you could charge the other police also, if he would not have called the officer would not have been driving so irate in the first place!!

  • Respond

    RIP!! The officer was trying to protect the Wilmington community, however he was either not properly trained to do so or he violated the rules of high speed chases within the police policies. I’m not an officer nor do I know the law however I do have common sense. The officer took this job knowing the risk, if he would have been trained properly on the procedures of the dept. (involving high speed chases) and followed them, this would have never happened! They are looking to blame someone but sometimes you must look at yourself!!

  • GuestIilm

    If you live in a troubled neighbor hood you are your own!! The police are so terrified about going in there!!! They will All ride around in groups in the wide open and thru nice neighborhoods. But where they are needed most they are scarce!!!!!!!!!!! Cowards!!!!!!!! The whole staff is full of cowards!!!!

  • guesty

    CFCC, Brunswick CC, SECC and Bladen CC all offer the BLET course. You should go through it, try to be hired on with WPD. You could change the whole department single handed.

  • Guest350

    It is sad the officer died, but the defendant cannot be held responsible. Sure, if you’re robbing a bank and something goes wrong and someone dies, that is one thing. The officer, through inexperience in high speed pursuit, CONTRIBUTED to and CAUSED his own demise. He could have been responding to a traffic accident. Would you hold the drivers of the wrecked vehicles responsible?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    This defendent was fleeing police while dumping drugs out of the car. He WAS committing a felony.

    Try not to be intentionally obtuse.

  • guesty

    Is a traffic accident a crime? No, it is an accident. Is failure to stop for blue lights & siren a crime? Sure is. Therefore an officer doesn’t respond at the same speed to an accident versus when another officer calls for backup.
    Take off the tinfoil hat, it is messing up your brain.

  • guesty

    Nope, the main citation given at a wreck (such as failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident) is an infraction and isn’t a criminal violation. There is a difference in an infraction and a criminal charge and that deems a different response to each. I’ve changed my mind and you need to keep the tinfoil hat on, you need it.

  • Guest350

    You are always bringing up “tinfoil”. Do you own stock in Reynolds Aluminum? Actually, a traffic accident is a crime. The offending driver is charged, goes to court, is fined, etc. It might not be a crime that would include jail time, but still a wrongdoing that carries a penalty. The officer used bad judgment, pure and simple. The defendant should be freed of these charges. I pass my tinfoil hat to you.

  • Reply

    It is sad that the officer lost his life in an accident!!!! The defendant should not be liable for the officers lack of training on how to drive in a high speed chase!!! This is crazy!! COMMON SENSE would have prevented this!!!! Not his fault for the officers inabilities!!!!

  • guesty

    Common sense would have prevented this if Pierce had been a grown man and just pulled over but his hood mentality kicked in and he freely decided he was going to try to escape.. He set this whole incident into motion by his actions and should be held accountable.


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