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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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My question is since there were two other people in the car will they be charged with accessory in the murder charge?

To 100mph

I have one question for the writer of 100mph. How fast would he/she want a police officer to go if the officer was responding to his/her home if their family was in eminent danger? I do not think you would be so quick to judge if you needed the help. Put yourself in harms way on a daily basis, them you have earned the right to speak. I know I know, there is freedom of speech. I get it! But it is easy to armchair quaterback something when you are not the one making the split second decisions. When you are not the one on the other end of the radio listening to another officer asking for help. It is true that if the officer never makes it to the call he/she is doing no one any good, but you have to be put in their shoes just once to get it.

To To 100 mph

How would you feel if you were crossing an intersection, misjudged the speed of the officer traveling 100mph on a city street, who has responding to a back up call miles away from his location for a someone with some pot, and got t-boned by the officer causing your death and the death of the officer?

How would you feel if you were crossing an intersection

got t-boned by the officer causing your death and the death of the officer? Amazing scenario?????? That bulbs burning a little dim there!!!!!!!

First of all, you would be

First of all, you would be an idiot. If you see an officer with lights and siren going why would you even try to pull out in front of them. Secondly, this was not for some person with pot. This was 3 subjects, one of which had a gun, that just robbed other drug dealers. They were throwing out bags of marijuana and had over $200k in their vehicle. For a case like this I think every officer in the near vicinity to respond and get there as fast as they can

they didnt have 200k with

they didnt have 200k with them, one of the white guys got caught with 191k last year.

There you go

again....Thinking with your fingers and NOT your brain. It was not until after the facts of the case came out that we found out about the gun, robbery and money. Very easy to be Monday morning quarterback, huh????

No all we really needed

Was the NARC unit to take care of them like they were going to do. They were watching them why did they let the drug dealers rob other drug dealers? If NARC had done their job maybe none of this would have happened. Bottom line Matthews made a horrible mistake that cost him his own life God rest his soul.


I would prefer for them to go only as fast as they can drive without wrecking. Obviously 100 MPH may be fine for an officer who is experienced driving at high speeds, but not for those who are inexperienced. It is all relative.

DA's Comment

The DA's comment was, (paraphrasing) "We are going to send a strong message, If you get in a high speed chase and that chase ends in the death a police officer in any way, you will be charged with murder." So if an innocent civilian dies, that is not murder? You have to wonder, is the severity only because this was a police oficer? Most likely the answer is... Yes. The intent of malice was not there, however the involuntary action that caused the death was. Had a civilian been killed it would have been involunrary manslaughter however since it is a leo it is murder 2. I'd just be happy if any idiot running from leo who caused a fatality was charged with murder 2. But this goes to show the umbrella of the leo will always be stronger than the citizens they protect.... And whomever said that the suspect was not speeding? That is incorrect. The suspect reahced speeds of 102 mph. He deserves to rot in jail for he irresponsibility. I don't like it when I am pulled over by law enforcement, but if I am lit up by a leo, I am going to pull over.. But wait... I don't cary illegal narcotics in my vehicle either.... Yep... Let em rot..

Nice assumption....but you

Nice assumption....but you didn't state one fact in that whole mess. All you did was give your thoughts and put them out there as the DAs.

Indicted is not convicted.

Indicted is not convicted. If he has a lawyer worth anything, this case will never be heard in New Hanover County. I highly doubt he will be convicted of this charge anywhere else, and if so, I see years and years of appeals at the taxpayers expense. This suspect was being pursued by another officer. He was not shooting at innocent people, he had not just committed any heinous crime. He would not have been the first pot dealer to get away. I feel sorry for Matthews family but to me this just does not justify a murder charge. We all have to show responsibility for our own lives.

Maybe he'll walk...

Maybe he'll walk on the murder charge, but he'll surely do it in soiled fruit of the looms, you can bet on that! At the very least, a strong message will be sent here and maybe, just maybe some of these punk-assed, drug dealing thugs will think twice before acting in desperation as this one did!!!!

Murder Charge

In all honesty I am probably the only one who thinks that the DA is right to charge the guy with 2nd degree murder. First he was in posession of drugs, second he was eluding police. Third it was this guy who threw the box of said drugs out the window and into the road. Officer Matthews was on his way to assist the other officers in pursuit of the criminal. ALL officers who go through BLET are given courses in driving a patrol vehicle in situations such as these. Therefore they are prepared and able to handle the vehicle. It is not often you hear of an officer losing control of a car. Officer Matthews swerved to miss the box because it was full of drugs and they needed it as eveidence. Not to mention but put yourself in an officer's shoes. If you need backup you want another officer there quickly.

murder charge

This box in the road was not thrown out by the suspected drug dealers. It was an empty shoe box laying in the road visible for a half mile. The police officer high on adrenaline was driving too fast. The drug dealers only had marijuana, a harmless substance, why criminilize it? It is not as harmful as beer, liquor,or wine, all of which are perfectly legal. Maybe this trial should bring to light the faulty laws that would make someone with marijuana run from being stopped by an officer, and a backup officer lose his life.


The box did not come from the suspects vehicle and it did not contain any drugs. The box was just road debris. The chase didn't even go on that part of Shipyard. Where did you ever hear that? It amazes me how people will make comments without knowing what they are talking about.

Wait a minute

"it is not often you hear of an officer loosing control of a car?" What city do you live in buddy? How about take a visit to the city Just the other day an officer pulled out infront of a motorcycle because he was in a hurry to catch someone speeding and caused an accident. How about the officer that wrecked on Oleander, how about the officer that was responding to a fire with kids (false call) the officer was driving too fast and lost control of the car totaling the car. How about the accidents officer Matthews has been in prior to this one?? Come on man where in the world are you getting your info....

Listen to yourself

"ALL officers who go through BLET are given courses in driving a patrol vehicle in situations such as these. Therefore they are prepared and able to handle the vehicle." So if I took one course on heart transplants, would I be qualified to give you a heart transplant? Hell I passed 2 years of Japanese classes, and I can count to 4 and tell you I will do something tomorrow in that language. Just because you take a course on something, doesn't make you qualified. Honestly people, think before you communicate.

bleeding hearts

Do you people not have the mental capacity to realize that if this Drug smuggling thug would not have run, the accident would have never happened It doesn't matter if the fallen officer was ten feet or ten miles behind this trash that ran Thank goodness those people in the court room had enough common sense to realize that, unlike the previous 4 posters.


If a police officer is going 100 mph+ to aid in a felony arrest, then we should applaud his bravery. Everyone of you so quick to judge this officer about his speed would likely praise him when he responded to your emergency quickly. I don't get it.. people complain that the police take too long to respond and then turn around and complain that they drive too fast.


Problem being, he never made it to the call. So no, I wouldn't praise his quick response




Now that is funny

Could not agree more.

Could not agree more. Officer Matthews, rest in peace but geeze, 102mph? Unfortunately police officers occasionally exercise poor judgement. The only one at fault here is Officer Matthews. I understand the community has a need to understand this tragedy and find a scapegoat, but to pin it on a guy that wasn't even close to the scene and traveling at a low rate of speed? Seems to me that the person who left the box in the road is more at fault than Mr. Pierce. Looks like a littering beef needs to be upped to second degree murder charge.

Where do you think the box

Where do you think the box came from? Hello...the box he missed was thrown from Pierce's car. It had the drugs in it and Matthews was trying to miss it.

This is awful...

I cannot believe this man is getting charged with murder. So they have enough "evidence"? It was an accident and now another man's life is ruined. I do not condone what Pierce was doing at ALL. But he is not responsible for this. Maybe if he had rammed Matthews in to the trees, or was even CLOSE to the scene. I feel bad for everyone involved.



How is that?

The charges are second-degree murder under the intent of malice. How can you spin it that this man who was driving slowly away from police officers, using his turn signals, was responsible for the death of this officer? Especially with malice. Let us check the facts: The fleeing vehicle was not speeding. Said vehicle was not firing at officers or trying to run them off of the road. No need for excessive speed to assist. Officer Matthews was driving at 100 MPH when he wrecked. Officer Matthews obviously could not handle a vehicle at these speeds. I don't see any malice involved. I am pretty sure if Mr. Pierce had wanted to maliciously harm a police officer, he could have used the alleged firearm he carried. I only see a man who should be on trial for 3 things: Marijuana, eluding police, and firearms.

"During the chase, Pierce

"During the chase, Pierce reached speeds of 65 mph in a 25 mph zone, ran through three stop signs without slowing and crossed into oncoming lanes, prosecutors said. Also, five 1-pound bags of marijuana were thrown from the vehicle, with a street value of $30,000. The next day, prosecutors said in the court brief, a .40-caliber Glock handgun, loaded with hollow-point bullets, was found by a “Good Samaritan” along the chase route, near the New Hanover County Senior Center on South College." This is the new information that has come still standing by your statement that there was no reason for LEO to hurry for backup? How about we throw in that these 3 guys just held up and robbed other drug dealers. There was also $200k found in the vehicle.


Once again, how do you conclude he should be charged with 2nd degree murder with the intent of malice? You said it yourself, he was armed. Did he fire his weapon at a police officer? I don't think so. Did he throw the drugs out as a way of getting rid of them or as a death trap for the police? I'd say to get rid of evidence. I think he should surely go to trial for the crimes he is charged with, but murder? If you honestly believe he should, I am going to bet you also believe the earth was created 6000 years ago by an omniscient being. So I guess to answer your question, yes I stand by my statement. There was NO reason for said officer to be traveling in excess of 100 MPH to get there. I am sure 60-70 would have been sufficient and would have got him there to actually back the other LEO up.Instead he drove faster than was safe and the end result was HE caused his own death.