Nineteen-year-old Matias Perry, who threw the first punch in the attack that led to the death of Matthew Chew on a New London street two years ago, pleaded no contest to manslaughter Thursday and will be sentenced in February to 15 years in prison.
Perry is one of six New London teens charged in the Oct. 29, 2010, stabbing death of Chew, a 25-year-old artist and restaurant worker who was walking home from his job at a Huntington Street restaurant. He is the second person to accept a plea offer in the case, and more pleas are anticipated in the upcoming weeks.
The person considered the lead aggressor, Idris Elahi, 19, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in May to 35 years in prison. The state then began making plea offers to the other five defendants, all of whom remain incarcerated, based on whether they cooperated with the investigation.
Perry, one of two teens who did not cooperate, received an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 20 years, suspended after 15 years served and five years probation. According to statements made in court, he initially appeared reluctant to accept the offer but changed his mind after talking with his mother and his attorney, Peter E. Scillieri. Had he taken his case to trial, the state would have prosecuted him on the original charge of accessory to murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.
Standing before Judge Susan B. Handy Thursday, Perry had to be reminded to speak up as he answered a series of questions the judge posed to ensure he understands the deal.
Chew’s parents, Marilyn and Rick Chew, were aware of the plea offer and are expected to attend the Feb. 7 sentencing. Perry’s mother, who lives in Florida, also is expected to attend.
According to the prosecutor Stephen M. Carney, the six teens met at Elahi’s house and devised a plan to go downtown and jump somebody. Chew, who had just finished his shift as a cook at 2Wives Brick Oven Pizza on Huntington Street, was walking toward his home on nearby Washington Street when one of the teens asked him for a lighter.
“He reached into his pocket and this defendant (Perry) did assault the victim,” Carney said.
According to co-defendant Brian Rabell, who described the attack during a probable cause hearing in the case last year, Perry and then Marquis Singleton punched Chew in the head, and the other teens joined in on the attack.
Nineteen-year-old Rahshad Perry, who is not related to Matias Perry, received the same plea offer as Matias Perry because he, too, declined to provide a statement to police and testify at the probable cause hearing. Rahshad Perry initially rejected the offer and said he wanted to take his case to trial. He may reconsider the offer when he appears in court next week, according to his attorney, William Grace.
The other defendants who cooperated with the investigation — Rabell, 20, Tyree Bundy, 19, and Marquis Singleton, 19 — have received plea offers that involve a shorter prison sentence than the 15-year offer extended to Matias and Rahshad Perry.
They have been told their cases would be resolved next.