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Anthony Pierce charged with second-degree murder for Officer Matthews' death

READ MORE: Anthony Pierce charged with second-degree murder for Officer Matthews' death
After two days of testimony and deliberation, a New Hanover County grand jury has indicted Anthony Pierce on murder charges in connection with the death of Wilmington police officer Rich Matthews. The charges are second-degree murder under the intent of malice. On top of felony charges of fleeing to elude arrest, Pierce was charged with possession and intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and possession of a firearm. "We are very pleased to take this case forward, and if we have to fight to make precedent in this state, frankly we believe this is a fight worth having,” said District Attorney Ben David. Second-degree murder charges are now a reality for Anthony Pierce. It took the grand jury two days of hearing testimony and asking questions to reach this decision. "It's our job to present the facts, and we leave it to the grand jury to decide what the facts are, and anytime they can come up with a decision on that, we are pleased with that,” said Corporal Joseph Fitzgerald of the WPD. Second-degree murder charges under "implied malice" means the state will claim Pierce intentionally engaged in reckless behavior to put another life at risk. In this case, that life was officer Rich Matthews. The prosecutor’s theory is, if Anthony Pierce had stopped for the officers pursuing him, they wouldn't have needed to call for back up. A 25-page brief written by DA Ben David stated Matthews was traveling about 100 miles per hour when he crashed on his way to assist other officers. The brief outlines other important facts in the case, all which were compiled by officers like Corporal Fitzgerald who helped with the reconstruction of the accident. Pierce made his first appearance in court today since the new charges. His bond was set at $750,000. Judge Gessner appointed Walter Smith from the Public Defender's Office to represent Pierce in this case.

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Customers, Criminals, and Family

It sounds like his customers, other criminals, and maybe some of his family think he should just walk away from the death of this officer. So many write in running down the WPD because Officer Matthews was going all out to catch a felon and get to other officers in need. You complain about this and that and how bad law enforcement is but when someone is coming through your window to harm you or your family or rob your house they can't drive fast enough for you then. This officer gave his life to keep drug dealing trash like this off our streets and all people want to do is whine about his driving and speed and watch the video of him loosing his life. The men and women of law enforcement don't do this to get rich they do it because they care, so take a little time to say thank you then keep your mouths shut about the DA and the Grand Jury who are doing their jobs. Quite frankly he should have gotten Murder One with a needle.

Thank you Mr. Walters

Thank you for the courage to speak the truth! My son is a police Sgt. in another large US city. I would expect his community to stand up for him if, God forbid, something should happen to him while he's ON DUTY doing his job! These officers put their lives on the line EVERYDAY for us. Take these sleezy drug dealers off our streets so our children have half a chance for a future without drugs. Sorry if Pierce's customers are upset, but I'm sure there are many other sleezbags out there who can hook you up! RIP Officer Matthews. God bless your family.

Thank you sir...

Thank you Mr. Walters for saying what others don't have the courage to say. Let's not let Wilmington go the way the nation seems to be going---with a bunch of whiney cowards who see the "bad guys" as the victims. Thanks again. Enjoyed reading your piece.

THANK God your not on the Jury!!!! Mr.Walters

You must have bliders on dude!

Are You?

Are you one of his customers, or just some brain dead fool who thinks just let him go and tell him not to do it again.

Mr. Walters

Actually I am an educated, tax paying, drug free human that has a mind of my own that see's this situation objectivly. I also have a little respect which you seem to be lacking. let me be really clear I think he should go to jail for the crimes he actually commited. I do not beleive that revenge is the answer. The justice system has its flaws like any other system.


Just who do you have respect for the police or the criminal. In everything I have written I have expressed the highest respect for the police and the law and the very lowest regard I can have for the criminals who break the law. This is not revenge this drug dealer is being charged according to the law and what was found by the Grand Jury. If you don't like the way the law is written then by all means try to change it. From your comments you sound like some bleeding heart that would give him probation and slap on the hand. The law of the state doesn't say it has to be a direct act by the person to be charged with murder, wouldn't you agree Pierce's actions in fleeing while commiting a felony would warrant this charge. From you comment I guess you wouldn't but that is not for you or me to decide. The police did their job catching him, the Grand Jury and the DA did their job charging him, now a Judge and Jury will do their job sorting out the facts and the truth to put this piece of garbage away for life.

Mr. Walters

I am not sure wither he is garbage or not doesn't matter. The facts are what they are, the combination of the box and his speed caused the accident plain and simple. What if Pearce had pulled over and never run and the officer called for backup and opfficer matthews still had the accident what then. What if an officer pulled over a DUI and called for some assistance... so do you mean to tell me that if I am speeding down College Road and the officer that pulls me calls for assistance and that other officer wrecks I could be charged with murder??? That is so is funny to me all the officers I have spoken with agree that this charge will never stick. Read the paper this morning the GJ procedding whent a little fishy??? Why is is this has happened in this case and in the Long case. my entire family works with the WPD & NHCS so I know exactly how it all works trust me. Just remember not every law breaker is a scum bag, what gives you the right to judge anyway? I think the system is seriously flawed and that is scary!!!


Lets see he and his friends were running during the commision of a felony. They were dealing drugs and you say you don't know if they were garbage or not. You sound more like one of his customers than a rational person. If your family works that close with law enforcement then why do you have so many negitive things to say about putting criminals away. I quite frankly don't believe officers who just lost one of their own would ever say the charge won't stick. I grew up in Wilmington and have several friends who are active officers and I doubt they are loosing sleep over this felon being charged with murder. The law he is being charged under says you have to directly or indirectly cause the death of another while commiting a felony, so your lame arguement about being charged with murder if an officer crashes while on their way to your DUI is just about STUPID. Pretty much like you. Don't disrespect LEO's with your stupidity they would still help you no matter how dumb you are.

On Point

You sir, are not on point. Nobody has said to let Mr Pierce go. They have only said for him to go to trial for the crimes that he actually can be reasonably accused of, i.e. eluding arrest, possession of marijuana, and possession of a fire arm. So, in my humble opinion, you are brain dead for wanting to charge him with second degree murder with intent of malice.

And YOU, sir, are just WRONG

I beg to differ with your comment "Nobody has said to let Mr Pierce go." Letting criminals go is EXACTLY what you and other fools like you are advocating if you believe that law enforcement officers should NEVER attempt to apprehend someone who has committed a crime. You also noted that among other things, he could also be "reasonably accused of, i.e. eluding arrest". Clearly, therefore, you believe fleeing is unacceptable behavior. But you don't want anyone to chase after them? YOU are the one with absolutely no active brain cells.

Did I say?

Did I say to not chase? I said chase at reasonable speeds that you can handle driving. He obviously didn't.

chicken or the egg?

Seems to be going around and around and around. Did they throw the box? I don't know. Was Officer Matthews directly involved in the chase? Yes. Just because he wasn't the officer directly behind these criminals, he was involved. If these mutts had stayed pulled over, Officer Matthews would not have been driving that fast to try to intervene in the chase. It all falls back on the mutts choice to run. If they had just stopped and taken the ticket or arrest none of this would happen. An example needs to be set that if you run and a officer is hurt due to you running, you will be charged.

Officer Matthews death and what the criminal charges

Am I the only American who thinks that someon should be at the very least ticketed for littering (the box on the road) our community!

I choose chicken

None of the other stuff matters. Officer Matthews was driving a car too fast for his own abilities. By your logic, if an ambulance wrecked and the EMS inside died, the person who was in need of help should be charged.After all, if they had just taken an aspirin and driven to the hospital themselves, the EMS would never have had to drive fast. Maybe we should charge the city for not cleaning trash from the roads? Let's go ahead and get the box company also.Better to be safe and have our streets safe for guesty. I bet you are the type of person who agrees with the person who sued McDonalds over the coffee spill in the lap. Let us blame others for our own stupid mistakes. And they say liberals are the ones trying to place blame on everyone else but themselves. And for my own curiosities, why call them mutts? They are people. Is that some kind of derogatory slur? Also, I am going to assume by your previous post, keep that in mind Submitted by guesty on 11 March 2009 - 5:00pm. "You keep that thought in mind when you are burning. Too late then to say sorry." I am sure if you are right, you will be there as well. Are you not judging these men? I think I recall seeing something in the bible about that........

because they are trash

They are mutts, criminals, law breakers. They also seem to be people you hold in high esteem. They must be your peers. An ambulance isn't trying to stop lawbreakers, they are life saving transportation. You are now trying to compare apples and oranges. No, I think you must take responsibility for your own actions. The actions of these criminals was to not stop when the police told them to. Therefore they need to suffer the consequences of those choices. Yep, I'm judging them, my personal opinion of them. I don't praise or defend trash like you seem to do. I'm sure you must be a liberal, you seem to hold criminals near & dear to you.

Judging again

I have never once defended the criminals. I have defended a persons right to not be charged with far-fetched bogus charges. Manslaughter perhaps, murder with intent of malice, come on. Where was the intent of malice? Running from the cops is intent to escape. Shooting or ramming them is intent of malice. For your information, Mr. hypocritical, judgmental christian, I am a law abiding citizen who does not associate with criminals. That is why I don't go to church.

You got me on that last line....

JohnRPublic....You confuse me! What does defending people (guilty or not) have to do with peoples right to believe in God and attend church weekly? Why do you call church attenders criminals? You are, in essence, comparing me with a criminal who allegedly contributed to the death of a young Police Officer. We don't judge we leave that up to God. I find your comments very offensive.


You are in essence, affiliated with a group, who has killed WAY more people then any mass murderer. So yes, I am comparing you.

Janice, where were you when

Janice, where were you when one of your fellow christians said to John "You keep that thought in mind when you are burning"? I suppose you don't find that offensive in the slightest. I suppose that is your idea of not judging and leaving that up to "God". You all judge in some way or the other. John's comment was something of a generalization, and perhaps an unfair one. But if you are going to call him out, then correct your flock too while you're at it.

ok THAT was good

Last sentence. Made me laugh out loud.

Way to go................

Way to go................

I know that this response

I know that this response will probably create a lot of controversy. However, I think it needs to be said. I am sure that a lot of others feel the same, but just have not spoken up due to the "political correctness" that rules our nation. Ever since 911, police and firefighters (previously known as firemen), have been put on pedestals. I know that their jobs are dangerous, but they chose them. I have been a US Marine during the Viet Nam war, and served as a uniformed police officer for 5 years afterward, so I somewhat know how folks in harm's way feel. Whenever a LEO or Firefighter falls, it is sad, especially when it happens in the line of duty. However, is the huge publicity necessary? How about the blocking off of roads for the funerals that inconvenience travelers? How about the attitude of the prosecutors, as if these lives were worth more than any other person? When the motorcycle hit the cabbie the other day, I didn't hear much in the way of complaints about videos of the accident. However, there was a big to-do over the release of the 911 tapes and the dash cam of the patrol car of Officer Matthews. It is sad whenever anyone passes in the course of their daily jobs. Whether it is a construction worker like the one at the new Oak Island bridge, a utiliy worker who is electrocuted, a cabbie who is t-boned, or anyone else. I just think that all lives are important and none more so than others. Just the other day a young woman was killed upstate when she hit a fire truck who came over into her lane. The truck was not answering a call for help, but setting up a roadblock for a funeral procession for a fellow fireman.

Big difference

Firefighters, EMS workers, soldiers, Police intentionally place themselves in harms way to protect another. Bridge high wire workers, utility workers are not risking their lives for another person. There's a big difference between a guy with 40 pack on his back running up 50 flights of stairs to check on the welfare and aid and assist people in a burning skyscraper than a dude standing under a crane with a wrench on his hand. Huge difference. Likewise it is a big difference between a person in an accident that gets killed and someone like Matthews responding to a potentially life threatening situation.

works for me

"utility workers are not risking their lives for another person." Really? So when they are out before the hurricane is finished trudging through muck and mire to get to downed power lines so YOU can have hot coffee, that is for THEM and not YOU? I will let my husband know that next time a hurricane blows thru here him and his work buddies wont have to wait at work for days on end while their families are home alone holding down the fort. I guess you do not think that electricity is dangerous? They work for YOU.

What is wrong with LEOs???

Okay so what about the WPD that wrecked right before Christmas same kind of accident officer matthews was in, what about the officer that pulled out in front of the guy on the motorcycle the other day in a hurry to pull someone over for speeding?? Why was Matthews driving an old crown vic....maybe he had been in a few accidents before...just maybe there are officers out there that just don't know how to drive. i heard that NARC was observing Pierce and about to bust him any way so why is NARC not blamed for busting him before now???? So I guess we can lock up the NARCOTICS unit for murder? You cops think that you are GOD, and you are not. Don't misunderstand me I appreciate that job that MOST of you do but don't think for a second that the public doesn't know that each one of you is human. I had a WPD friend tell me just the other day he saw someone driving down Market st. drunk and he didn't pull him because he shift was almost up!!! You guys are human and make mistakes and it is so unfortunate that officer matthews mistake cost him his life. Charging that man with murder is wrong wrong and wrong.


how in the hell can they charge pierce with 2nd degree murder when they didn't even slap the hand of long when he shot strickland...who was unarmed....through the front door of his house? sounds like two sets of standards.... doesn't it? one hell of a judicial system... isn't it?

The DA went to the GJ with

The DA went to the GJ with Long just like they did with Pierce...that's all the DA can do.

A great Day in Wilmington

Thank you Ben David and all those involved for seeing that this case sets a presidence in our community. As usual, your tireless efforts will provide Justice to the families and Law Enforcement for their tragic loss. And to those of you who cause these types of chases, may you reap what you sew. Think twice about running, it will get you nowhere. Face it Wilmington, the law has spoken through the voices of the Grand Jury and remember, you too may one day sit on a panel of 15 making the same decision. This will be because of some low life drug dealer running . Beating up our DA for doing what is right is wrong. Try looking at the facts and making an adult decision. Drug dealers have no place here, perhaps the strong convictions of our DA will rid them all as he will not tolerate what is happening in our community. Thank you Mr. David, keep up the good work.

High Horse

You know, I don't recall one person on this comment page making a mention of wanting Mr. Pierce to walk with no trial. What people are asking, dare I say demanding, is that drug dealers be dealt with as drug dealers.Simply put, just because someone may break the law, doesn't mean you should create erroneous charges to put them away for longer. Strong convictions are one thing, false charges are another. Be firm, but fair. I am sure every law abiding citizen wants to see crime go away, but not by falsity.