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.