Eugene Matthews, who has a long history of run-ins with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, is set to stand trial in May for murder in the death of his best friend’s ex-wife.
Matthews appeared before Circuit Judge Deno Economou for a Thursday morning hearing during which attorneys agreed to a trial date within the two-week trial period that begins May 15.
Just before 7 p.m. Jan. 10, Rebecca Rawson, along with her brother-in-law and daughter, went to Matthews’ home in the 2900 block of Pritchart Road in Parrish to retrieve her late husband’s dog, detectives say. When Rawson’s brother-in-law knocked on the front door and Matthews’ girlfriend answered, he called for the dog, “Bart,” picked him up and turned to walk away, according to the sheriff’s office.
Matthews appeared in the doorway armed with a handgun, walked out and began shooting. Detectives say three shots were fired, and as the Rawson family tried to flee, their vehicle crashed into a wooden fence.
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One bullet struck the windshield and hit Rebecca Rawson in the face, according to the sheriff’s office.
Rawson was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where she later died.
Matthews, who was arrested shortly after the shooting, is charged with second-degree murder with a firearm and two counts of attempted murder in the second-degree with a firearm.
Since his arrest Matthews has been held at the Manatee County jail without bond. His defense attorney is seeking to get him released on bond.
Attorneys from both sides will argue over whether bond should be set at 3 p.m. April 19.