In her last action before the adjournment of the New London Superior Court on Friday, Judge Susan B. Handy gave an order to the State’s Attorney’s Office. The prosecutors have been in possession of the items that 25-year-old Matthew Chew had when he was fatally stabbed on Oct. 29, 2010, as well as some evidence seized from his apartment. With the sentencing of the last of six defendants in the case, Handy asked that the property be returned to Chew’s family.
This action will close out the court’s role in the hearings and punishments for six men accused of involvement in Chew’s murder. At each sentencing this week, Handy has praised the Chew family for their courage in attending court each day to speak about the impact of his death and expressed the wish that they will find closure.
“It’s a chapter that’s closed,” said Richard Chew, Matthew’s father. “The whole closure thing is still elusive to us.”
The first sentencing in the case happened almost 10 months ago, when 19-year-old Idris Elahi was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Elahi was one of six men accused of attacking Chew as he walked home from his job as a chef at 2 Wives Pizza, and he was the assailant identified by investigators as the man who stabbed Chew six times. Chew died of these injuries early the next morning after being flown to the trauma center at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Between Monday and Friday, the court meted out punishment to the remaining defendants. For Rashad Perry, the 19-year-old who dared Elahi to stab someone as the group went looking for a random person to beat up, 15 years in prison. The same punishment for Matias Perry (no relation), the 19-year-old who opened the assault by asking Chew for a lighter and punched Chew as he reached into his pocket to retrieve one.
The remaining defendants each received eight years: Brian Rabell, the 21-year-old who had been accepted into the Marines and was criticized for not doing more to stop the plan; Tyree Bundy, 20, to whom Elahi handed a knife after the attack; and finally Marquis Singleton, the 19-year-old charged with taking part in the initial assault on Chew.
Marilyn Chew, Matthew’s mother, said she and Richard discussed the agreed upon sentences with the State’s Attorney’s Office over the course of two days before the men entered pleas to the reduced charge of first-degree manslaughter late last year.
“We spent five hours of heavy discussion to come to a point where we could all agree on,” said Marilyn.
“We negotiated, but our starting point was much longer,” said Richard.
The sentencings were all scheduled for this week so that Chew’s parents, who live in California, would only have to make one trip. Their statements to the court and defendants were nearly identical from day to day, speaking of the kind of person Chew was and the pain of losing him. Richard said the difficulty of the proceedings was such that he could not imagine the strain the family would have faced if each case went to trial.
“It was demanding, much more than we expected,” he said. “We expected it to be easier each day, and it was actually harder.”
Marilyn said one of the most difficult parts of the proceedings came when Peter Scillieri, defense attorney for Matias Perry, gave a lengthy statement questioning several characterizations raised by the state including that the defendants were on a “hunt” and that the case had done harm to the community as a whole. She said Scillieri spoke with them beforehand but said the remarks left the family “devastated.”
“We never expected the length, and a lot of the things that were said may have been more appropriate for a closing argument,” she said.
Richard and Marilyn maintain a close connection with Connecticut, where Chew grew up and graduated from Ledyard High School. They still own the house and rent out the house where he was raised, and some of Chew’s family lives in the state. Marilyn said she and Richard are looking to purchase a house here to be closer to these relatives and plan to live here in the spring and summer months.
In their time in New London, Richard and Marilyn have often visited Chew’s former workplace at 2 Wives Pizza. The restaurant’s owner, Amy Sarcia, keeps a picture of Chew in the kitchen and oversees efforts to raise funds for an arts scholarship in his name. These include a donation of $1 from the sale of every pear and gorgonzola pizza—a dish invented by Chew—toward the scholarship.
The restaurant is located near the intersection where a passing motorist spotted Chew lying in the street on the evening of Oct. 29, 2010. However, Marilyn said she tries not to think of that.
“We focus on the fact that Matt enjoyed working there,” she said.