In the first of five sentencings this week for the 2010 murder of Matthew Chew in what was deemed to be a random attack planned out of boredom, Judge Susan B. Handy criticized the “pack mentality” that led Rashad Perry and five other young men to attack and fatally wound 25-year-old Matthew Chew as he was walking home from work.
Handy noted that Perry—who police say dared a friend to stab someone on the evening of Oct. 29, 2010—said in a pre-sentencing interview that he knew what he was doing was wrong.
“You get a group of young men and they come up with some dumb, stupid idea and hatch some dumb, stupid plan and it is a recipe for disaster,” said Handy. “And this is a disaster of the worst kind.”
Perry was sentenced to 20 years in prison, suspended after 15 years, with five years of probation. During the probationary period, he must obey the law; have no contact with his co-defendants or Chew’s family; undergo substance abuse and psychiatric evaluation (with treatment if necessary); not possess any weapons; have no association with gang members, felons, drug users, or drug dealers; get his General Education Development diploma; make restitution of $4,200 to Chew’s family; and complete at least 15 hours of community service each week unless he finds work.
The court has scheduled the remaining four sentencings in the case for this week to prevent repeat trips to Connecticut by Chew’s parents, who live in California. Brian Rabell, 21, will be sentenced on Tuesday; Tyree Bundy, 20, on Wednesday; Matias Perry (no relation to Rashad), 19, on Thursday; and Marquis Singleton, 21, on Friday.
“I can only see what will not happen”
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Carney said he did not believe Perry thought he and his friends would be involved in a homicide when they went out on the evening of Oct. 29. However, he said Perry was directly involved in the circumstances leading up to the attack and would have to face the consequences of his decisions.
“It was his idea to bring a knife,” said Carney.
Carney also described Chew as a creative, hardworking individual and “a symbol of everything that New London wants to be.” He said the group’s assault on a random person inflicted “tremendous damage” on the city, making residents more apprehensive about visiting New London or going downtown at night.
“I cannot begin to do justice to the loss the family and the community has suffered from the actions of Mr. Rashad Perry,” Carney concluded.
Richard Chew, Matthew’s father, said he has struggled with his son’s death daily and has been unable to comprehend the actions of the group that took his life. He said Chew was coping with bipolar disorder as well as some alcohol and drug problems, ultimately finding solace in artistic pursuits.
Richard said the last text message he received from Chew was a painting of a dog, the first in what he intended to be a series.
“I can only see what will not happen,” Richard said.
Marilyn Chew, Matthew’s mother, said Chew had a close relationship with his family and friends. She said several of his acquaintances reached out to her after his death to share their memories of him.
“He is a part of us, and he will always be a part of us,” said Marilyn. “His life mattered. I will not let these convicts wipe him away.”
Laura Lonardelli, mother of Chew’s girlfriend Lindsay Krodel, recalled how it seemed for a time that Chew would survive his injuries. Then she received the call from her daughter that he hadn’t made it.
“It just didn’t seem real,” said Lonardelli.
“I send my condolences out to you”
Bill Gerace, Perry’s defense attorney, said Perry asserted in his pre-sentencing report that he never took part in the assault. He said Perry has also said he accepts why he is going to jail and suggested that Perry is receiving too harsh a punishment for not cooperating with investigators in the New London Police Department. He said he and Perry considered going to trial but decided that such an action would only result in further reduced sentences for his co-defendants.
Three defendants who cooperated with investigators accepted plea agreements to serve eight years in prison. Gerace said he did not think Perry expected the group’s actions to result in Chew’s death.
“I looked at his words, and he said he never thought the plot would go that far,” said Gerace. “These were a bunch of kids horsing around.”
Gerace also suggested that Perry’s actions could have been a way of acting out after the murder of his older brother, 21-year-old Rahmel Perry, on March 3, 2010. Police have charged Miguel Vega in that case, which remains before the New London Superior Court.
Viola Cook, Perry’s mother, said she did not raise Perry to act as he did.
“If we could have changed it, we would have,” she said.
Several members of Perry's family attended the sentencing, but Cook was the only one to address the court. One member of Perry's family grumbled, "Any day now" during a slideshow of family photos of Chew that lasted several minutes and was later warned by a court marshal for making remarks during Lonardelli's testimony.
Perry spoke briefly to Chew’s family.
“I send my condolences out to you,” he said.
According to a police affidavit and court testimony, Perry was one of six young men who met at the house of Idris Elahi, now 19, on the evening of Oct. 29, 2010. They decided to go into New London and assault a random person after becoming bored.
Perry reportedly dared Elahi to stab someone, and the two started to “dap it up”—or make an oath—committing to the act before others in the group stopped them.
Carney said the group, all teenagers at the time of Chew’s death, were members of a gang called the Goon Squad. He said the group briefly spoke with one of their teachers after seeing him downtown and decided not to attack some other people, who appeared to be going to a Halloween party.
Carney said the six men surrounded and attacked Chew as he was walking home from his job as a chef at 2 Wives Pizza. Chew was stabbed six times and died early the next morning at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Elahi, who was accused of being the person who stabbed Chew, entered an Alford plea to murder on Feb. 22, 2012, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison on May 23.
Perry, who was originally charged with accessory to murder, entered an Alford plea to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter on Dec. 10 in order to accept the state’s recommended sentence. An Alford plea does not admit guilt but recognizes that prosecutors would be likely to win a conviction at trial.
“I don’t consider you to be throwaway”
Handy spoke to both families, telling Chew’s family that she hopes his memory will live on and Perry’s family that she sympathized with how they have lost one son to murder and another to prison. She also told Perry to act responsibly during his sentence, saying he is young and intelligent enough to turn his life around.
“I don’t consider you to be throwaway,” she said. “I don’t think that you can’t do better than this.”
Handy said she hopes the final sentencings in the case will help bring close to Chew’s family and friends.
“I recognize that this is the start of an excruciatingly difficult week for you,” she said.