Parrish man awaits sentencing for murder of former islander

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Eugene Matthews’ case ended Feb. 23 with a second-degree murder conviction for killing a former Anna Maria Island hairdresser. Islander File Photo: Courtesy Tiffany Tompkins/Bradenton Herald

Next in the case of Eugene Matthews will be his sentencing.

A Manatee County jury found the 84-year-old man guilty Feb. 23 for killing former Anna Maria Island hairstylist Rebecca Rawson and shooting at two of her family members outside his Parrish home.

A three-man, three-woman jury rendered guilty verdicts Feb. 23 against Matthews after a four-day trial and an hour of deliberation.

The jury convicted Matthews on three counts: a second-degree murder count for killing Rebecca Rawson and two counts of attempted murder in the second degree for shooting at her daughter, Kathryn Rawson, and brother-in-law Rodney Rawson.

Rebecca Rawson was in a vehicle in the Matthews driveway when a bullet shattered the windshield, struck and ended her life. The other Rawsons, Kathryn, in the vehicle with her mother and, Rodney, coming down the driveway, were not hit in the spray of bullets from Matthews.

Twelfth Circuit Court State Attorney Dickey Hough expects Matthews’ sentencing sometime in April to allow for a pre-sentencing investigation ordered by Judge Brian Iten.

Iten may consider the investigation by the Florida Department of Corrections because Matthews is a first-time felon, Hough said, adding the report will include Matthews’ criminal history and interviews with the defendant, victims and others.

Hough said he expects Kathryn Rawson and others to testify at the sentencing hearing.

The jury’s verdict was governed by 44 pages of instructions, including those related to Matthews’ “stand-your-ground” defense.

Matthews’ attorney, Scott Rieth, contended Matthews was justified in the use of deadly force in defense of his home against the Rawsons, who had come to retrieve their family dog.

Before the shooting, the Rawsons arranged to meet Matthews at his residence, where he lived with Juanita Sills, to retrieve the dog that had belonged to Ed Rawson, who died about a week before the shooting. Ed was Kathryn Rawson’s father and a former Holmes Beach resident.

In prior proceedings, Manatee County investigators testified the crime scene was consistent with Rawsons’ vehicle backing out of the driveway to flee after Matthews came out shooting.

Matthews faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and, according to the state’s sentencing standards, a 25-year minimum sentence, according to Hough.

Hough said he plans to talk to the victims before making his sentencing recommendation to the judge.

Rebecca Rawson was a Holmes Beach resident who worked 30 years at Head Quarters Salon in Holmes Beach and at an Anna Maria salon, Lor-Ells Hair Design, which closed in 2016.

Kathryn Rawson worked for a boutique on Pine Avenue.

Matthews remains at the Manatee County jail, where he’s been since the Jan. 10, 2017, shooting.

The sentencing will be held in the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave., W., in Bradenton.

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