New London teen to stand trial for murder of Matthew Chew
The parents of homicide victim Matthew Chew said they plan to return to California after a judge found Monday there was enough evidence to prosecute the teenager accused of killing their son on a dare.
Marilyn and Rick Chew said they came to New London earlier this month to learn the details of their son's death, and as "painful and disconcerting" as it was, Rick Chew said Monday that they got what they came for.
In a probable cause hearing that concluded Monday, Judge Patrick J. Clifford ruled that the state had presented enough evidence to prosecute 17-year-old Idris Elahi for murder.
Elahi is charged with fatally stabbing Chew with a folding knife after he and five other New London teenagers hatched a plan to go downtown and jump somebody on Oct. 29, 2010. Chew had clocked out of his cook's job at 2Wives Brick Oven Pizza a short time earlier. He lived less than a tenth of a mile away on Washington Street.
The state had been expected to call more witnesses when the hearing that began Feb. 18 resumed Monday, and Chew's family and friends had gathered in a New London courtroom along with family and friends of Elahi.
Prosecutor Stephen M. Carney rested his case without calling anybody else to the witness stand and argued that the state had met its burden by putting forth sufficient evidence to convince a reasonable person that Elahi was responsible.
Defense attorney Bruce McIntyre conceded the evidence could prove his client was out in New London that night with other teens but not that he stabbed Chew.
The judge ruled in the state's favor.
"This court finds that the state has satisfied its burden that the crime of murder probably occurred and that the defendant probably committed it," Clifford said.
Following the judge's ruling, McIntyre entered a not guilty plea on Elahi's behalf and scheduled his next court appearance for March 14. Elahi's case is now in pretrial status, along with the cases of his five codefendants.
Since Elahi is deemed to be the most responsible for Chew's death, the state likely will seek to resolve his case first. All six defendants are incarcerated.
Elahi's parents, Damita and Muneer Elahi, were talking with their son's attorney after the brief court proceeding. Damita Elahi has not responded to requests for an interview with The Day. McIntyre could not be reached to comment later in the day.
At the hearing, Shaun Smalley, a city resident who called 911 on the night of the killing, testified that he found the mortally wounded Chew lying on the road at the intersection of Huntington and Jay streets. The state had played the 911 recording on which the 25-year-old artist, DJ and pizza cook, who had allegedly asked his attackers, "Why is this happening?" uttered what were likely his final words. Chew was able to tell Smalley he had been jumped and stabbed and did not know his attackers.
Responding police officer Joshua Bergeson, who recognized Chew from 2Wives, said he arrived to find an unresponsive Chew bleeding from his chest and stomach. Bergeson said he applied pressure to the wounds until an ambulance arrived. He said he was then ordered to search the area and deploy his patrol rifle, an AR-15.
The Lawrence & Memorial Hospital paramedics and doctors who treated Chew had also testified, as did the Yale-New Haven surgeon who opened Chew's chest in the emergency room after Chew arrived via Life Star helicopter. The doctor said Chew was too fragile to move to the operating room. Chew was eventually moved to the OR but died hours later.
The most stunning testimony at the hearing had come from 18-year-old Brian Rabell, 17-year-old Marquis Singleton and 18-year-old Tyree Bundy, who are charged as accessories to murder. Taking the witness stand with the hope of getting a better deal in their own cases, the three had described how they met up with Elahi, Matias Perry and Rahshad Perry at Elahi's house on Home Street on that Friday night.
They said they were watching television and playing video games when something they saw on TV got them "hyped" and they decided to go downtown and jump someone. They said Rahshad Perry dared Elahi to stab someone and that the two went to give each other the Goon Squad "dap," a handshake known only to members of their street gang.
Rabell and Bundy said they tried to break up the "dap" because Rabell said they did not want the attack to escalate to that level. Singleton said he saw Elahi with a folding knife with a black handle.
The teens said they went looking for a victim downtown and had targeted one man but gave up on him when he got into a car. Moments after a New London High School teacher saw them and warned them to "stay out of trouble," they said they spotted Chew walking alone on Huntington Street. They split up in case the victim tried to run, and then Matias Perry asked Chew for a lighter, according to their testimony. The attack began when Chew reached into his pocket. Chew tried to get up and run, and Bundy, who testified he did not know Elahi had a knife, said Elahi went over to Chew and started hitting him.
The six teenagers left Chew on the road and fled. Bundy said Elahi handed him a folding knife with blood stains on it when they met minutes later near the OIC building on Hempstead Street. Bundy said he took the knife, then handed it back and left. Singleton said he went home and cried because someone had been hurt.
Two nights later, the six teens went trick-or-treating together and discussed the importance of not telling anyone what had happened. Within a month, they were all charged in connection with Chew's death.
Marilyn and Rick Chew, who had stayed in the area for Monday's hearing and to spend time with family, said they have taken comfort in knowing their son was so well-liked in New London. A scholarship has been established in his name, and his friends are planning an April 9 fundraiser. A memorial bench in his name and a mural of one of his paintings also are being discussed.
The Chews said they would be following the cases of all six defendants and would return to New London for any major developments. Typically, murder cases involving multiple defendants take months or years to resolve. In the meantime, the six teens each will be making regular pretrial court appearances at which their attorney will discuss the case with the prosecutor and judge in an attempt to resolve it short of trial.
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