Judge seeks evidence at bond hearing

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Manatee County sheriff’s deputies escort Eugene Matthews into a 12th Circuit Court March 8 bond hearing. Matthews is charged with the second-degree murder of a former Anna Maria Island resident and hairdresser. Islander Photos: Courtesy Tiffany Tompkins/Bradenton Herald

Judge Deno Economou wanted to hear evidence.

But it didn’t happen March 8 at a packed hearing to set bond for Eugene Matthews, 83, jailed since Jan. 10, when he allegedly shot and killed Rebecca Rawson, 65, of Bradenton, outside his Parrish residence.

The hearing was requested by Matthews’ attorney, D. Scott Rieth of Lakewood Ranch.

At the hearing, Rieth asked for a $50,000 bond, telling the judge his client has a “pretty good stand-your-ground” defense and the Manatee County Sheriff’s reports “conveniently left out” the Rawsons’ vehicle drove to Matthews’ house after dark and broke down a gate.

Assistant State Attorney Darlene Ragoonaman said the state is “vehemently opposed” to allowing Matthews’ bond, the gate was open, the Rawson vehicle crashed through a fence on the way out and Matthews talked about killing people.

Rieth and Ragoonanan argued about Matthews’ criminal history.

Ragoonanan told the judge she had the probable cause affidavits of deputies who responded to the scene.

The judge declined to decide the bond question based on what the attorneys were saying. He said he wanted to hear evidence, and labeled the PCAs hearsay.

Rieth said he was not prepared to present evidence and didn’t want to continue the bond hearing for the next day because he hadn’t received discovery from the state.

The state filed discovery March 8, listing 70 witnesses, including deputies, detectives, crime scene technicians, nurses, paramedics and experts, including the medical examiner, according to the court’s online records.

The document lists marijuana as “tangible evidence obtained from or belonging” to Matthews. It also mentions a foot mark on Matthews’ front door.

Matthews faces one charge of second-degree murder in Rawson’s death and two counts of attempted murder in connection with shots fired at Rodney Rawson, Rawson’s brother-in-law, and her daughter, Kathryn Rawson. The Rawsons had come to the Matthews residence to pick up a family dog.

Matthews is being held in the Manatee County jail without bond.

Rawson is a former Holmes Beach resident and, for 30 years, a hairstylist at Head Quarters Salon in Holmes Beach and at Lor-Ells Hair Design in Anna Maria until it closed in June 2016.

Deputies estimated about 100 people came for the hearing, most of them Rawsons’ friends. Rieth spoke to a group of about 20 Matthews’ supporters after the hearing.

According to the online records, a bond hearing was set for 9 a.m. Thursday, March 30.

Hearings are held at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

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