WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- There was a dramatic reaction to today's verdict in the Anthony Pierce trial. Minutes after the jury found Pierce guilty of second-degree murder, the courtroom became emotional. The family of Ofc. Rich Matthews embraced one another and fellow officers.
After a 15-minute break, members of the Matthews family addressed the court. Matthews's father wanted to make it clear that Wilmington police officers were not acting like vigilantes, but are men and women risking their lives to protect us. Mrs. Matthews told the court she dreams of a world that's free of crime. Rich Matthews's brother Chris spoke last.
"Nothing that was decided here today will bring our brother back and my parents' son back," he said. "However, today you do have the opportunity to make sure that this individual who has spent 10 years in prison already and has elevated from robbing people and taking them hostages unarmed in a convenience store to robbing armed drug dealers, that he spend the rest of his living days in incarcerated prison."
Judge Phyllis Gorham sentenced Pierce to eight to 20 years in prison. Pierce took the news quietly, but was obviously rattled, and so was his family, who declined to talk to us on camera.
Though the Matthews family didn't say much to us, District Attorney Ben David says the family is grateful to the law enforcement community and the community at large for all their support.