One granted parole, two denied in Matthew Chew homicide case

Mindy Fowler, center, holds a photo of her brother Matthew Chew, as she is flanked by her brother Mike, right, and Lindsay Krodel, Matthew's girlfriend, left, as Chew's mother Marilyn speaks with the media after Idris Elahi was sentenced to 35 years in prison at Connecticut Superior Court in New London on May 23, 2012, for his part in the murder of Matthew Chew on Oct. 29, 2010. Members of the family attended recent hearings for two other men sentenced in his murder, both of whom were denied parole. (Tim Cook/The Day)
Mindy Fowler, center, holds a photo of her brother Matthew Chew, as she is flanked by her brother Mike, right, and Lindsay Krodel, Matthew's girlfriend, left, as Chew's mother Marilyn speaks with the media after Idris Elahi was sentenced to 35 years in prison at Connecticut Superior Court in New London on May 23, 2012, for his part in the murder of Matthew Chew on Oct. 29, 2010. Members of the family attended recent hearings for two other men sentenced in his murder, both of whom were denied parole. (Tim Cook/The Day)

Two of the young men convicted for their roles in the Oct. 29, 2010, murder of Matthew Chew in New London were denied early release from prison Wednesday by a three-member panel of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. 

A third codefendant has been granted parole and is expected to be released next month.

Brian L. Rabell, 25, and Marquis D. Singleton, 24, both were denied parole and will remain incarcerated for the remainder of their eight-year sentences for first-degree manslaughter. Rabell will serve an additional five months in prison for assaulting a fellow inmate at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in 2014.

Tyree Bundy, 24, was granted parole at a hearing in April and is expected to be released on or after Sept. 18, according to the Department of Correction. He will be supervised in the community by parole officers from the Department of Correction until his prison term expires in September 2018 and will begin serving five years of probation under the Judicial Branch's Department of Adult Probation. 

Bundy, Rabell and Singleton, three of the six people charged with murdering Chew as he walked home from work on Huntington Street, were allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in exchange for eight-year sentences because they cooperated with the prosecution. They became eligible for parole this year, having served 85 percent of their prison terms.

Though they were sentenced only four years ago, the men have been incarcerated since December 2010 and received credit for the time they served while awaiting trial. 

The victim's parents, Marilyn and Rick Chew, his sister Mindy, his girlfriend Lindsay Krodel and other friends attended Wednesday's hearing at the board's main office in Waterbury. Rabell and Singleton attended via video feed from their respective prisons in Enfield and Suffield and provided statements to the board as to why they believed they should be released early.

A transcript of the hearing was not immediately available, but Department of Correction spokeswoman Karen Martucci said the board considers a number of factors, including input from victims, the inmate's criminal record and prison record, including disciplinary history and participation in rehabilitative programs and work. 

Chew's parents said they told the board they wanted Rabell and Singleton to serve their full sentences, which the parents considered "light" to begin with. They described the pain and emptiness they feel because of the loss of their son and how they think of what happened to Matthew even as they enjoy watching his friends continue into their adult lives, get married and have children.  

"I had to accept that plea offers were given to Matt's murderers," Marilyn Chew wrote in her statement to the board. "But Matt had a life sentence. He doesn't come home to us. The sentence of (Rabell and Singleton) should be served in full. It is painful enough to know I might see (them) one day when I walk down a street."

Later in the day, the parents returned to New London to have lunch at 2Wives Brick Oven Pizza, where their son's culinary invention, a pear and gorgonzola pizza, is still a popular item on the menu. They said the parole board seemed well prepared for the hearing and that victim advocates helped them understand the proceeding. They said they thought justice was served by the board's decision. 

They said the board noted that Rabell had received four disciplinary tickets while incarcerated, including one for the assault. Singleton received 15 infractions, including one for writing a sexually inappropriate letter to a correction officer, they said.

"Only time will tell whether they become productive members of society," Marilyn Chew said. "Their actions will determine their future. In the meantime, we're moving forward the best we can."

The parents, who live in Arcadia, Calif., had not attended Bundy's parole hearing, though Rick Chew submitted a victim impact statement. Bundy had 13 disciplinary tickets during his incarceration, the last of which he received in December 2016, according to the DOC.

"I hope he does become a productive member of society," Marilyn Chew said. "I hope he reaches out to others, makes a difference in his community's life, in his family's life."

She said she would like to tell Bundy, "Make better choices in your future. Let this be something in the past."

The lead aggressor, Idris Elahi, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced in May 2012 to 35 years in prison. Under a law passed in 2015 in response to Supreme Court decisions involving juvenile offenders, he would become eligible for a parole hearing after serving 60 percent of his sentence.

The two other men involved in the crime, Matias Perry and Rahshad Perry, are serving 15-year sentences for manslaughter and also may be eligible for earlier parole hearings.

The Chews said they would be following any developments in the case.

According to court documents and testimony, the six teens were sitting around playing XBox and watching a cop show on television when they decided to go out and jump somebody. Something they saw on TV got them "hyped," and then Rahshad Perry dared Idris Elahi to stab somebody. As Perry and Elahi moved to "dap it up," or seal the dare with the secret hand gesture of their group, the Goon Squad, Bundy and Rabell tried to break them up.

Chew, a 25-year-old artist and DJ who had grown up in Ledyard and was enjoying New London's arts scene, had clocked out from his cook job at 2Wives. He was walking on Huntington Street to his Washington Street apartment less than a tenth of a mile away. According to testimony, the six teens surrounded Chew. Matias Perry asked Chew if he had a lighter and the assault began when Chew reached into his pocket. As Chew struggled to escape and asked, "Why is this happening?" Elahi stabbed him with a pocket knife, according to testimony. The teens fled.

Chew was able to tell a passer-by that he had been jumped and stabbed. He succumbed to his injuries early the next morning.

His family and friends have continued to honor his memory in a number of ways. They established The Matthew Chew Memorial Scholarship for the Arts, which is administered by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut. Every year, Rick and Marilyn Chew said they receive a thank you note from a student who received the $500 scholarship.

Another annual event inspired by Chew is the annual New London Youth Talent Show, with performances by young people from throughout the region, that regularly sells out the Garde Arts Center.

k.florin@theday.com

An undated photo of Matthew Chew. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Chew)
An undated photo of Matthew Chew. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Chew)

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