A New London man accused of killing two neighbors April 14 and torching their Blinman Street house to cover up the crimes was assigned two attorneys Tuesday when he made his first appearance in the court where major crimes are tried.
Joel Matthews, 29, is charged with two counts of murder, capital felony and second-degree arson.
He is accused of fatally beating Noel Starback, 57, and Sherry Roush, 50, who lived in the first floor apartment at 36 Blinman St. The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that the couple died of blunt trauma and that the manner of their deaths was homicide.
Matthews lived on the second floor of the apartment house.
Starback’s sister was in court today as Matthews, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bond, made his first appearance before Judge Patrick J. Clifford. The judge appointed public defenders Kevin C. Barrs and M. Fred DeCaprio to represent Matthews and continued the case to May 24. DeCaprio is from the state’s capital defense unit.
The sister and her husband met briefly with Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Lawrence J. Tytla, who will be prosecuting the case, and Victim Advocate Beth Ann Hess.
Though Matthews was charged with a capital case before Gov. Dannel Malloy signed the repeal of the death penalty, the state is expected to seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release rather than the death penalty.
Matthews’ attorneys will be discussing whether to go forward with a probable cause hearing. Defendants in murder cases are entitled to such a hearing within 60 days of their arrest.
The judge granted Tytla’s motion to continue sealing a police report in the case. Tytla said the investigation is ongoing and that people are still being interviewed. The judge said he had read the report, and it was difficult to see how making it public would adversely effect the investigation, but he agreed to seal the document through May 24.