A group of six young men left a house on Home Street intending to assault a random person but did not plan on committing murder, three co-defendants of 17-year-old Idris Elahi said at Elahi’s probable cause hearing on Friday.
Testimony at the hearing included 18-year-olds Brian Rabell and Tyree Bundy of 93 State Pier Road as well as 17-year-old Marquis Singleton of 50 Mountain Ave. Elahi and Singleton are charged with murder, while Rabell and Bundy are accused of accessory to murder. Matias Perry, 17, of 36 Wasau Place, and Rashad Perry, 17, of 281 Crystal Ave., are also accused of accessory to murder but did not take the stand; the two are unrelated.
The six are accused of involvement in the fatal stabbing of Matthew Chew, a 25-year-old cook who was walking home from 2 Wives Pizza on Oct. 29.
Rabell, Bundy, and Singleton each testified that the six youths met at Elahi’s house at 50 Home Street. Rabell and Singleton said the group was playing a basketball video game, while Bundy said they were watching television. Bundy said that “something happened on TV that made us want to go out and do something…to get in a fight with somebody.” Rabell said the idea came after the group became bored.
Rabell and Singleton both said that Rashad dared Elahi to stab someone. They said the two tried to “dap it up,” or make an oath, but that Rabell and Bundy stopped them from doing so.
“I didn’t want what we were about to do to escalate to that level,” said Rabell.
Rabell, Bundy, and Singleton said the group then went downtown in the area of the Crocker House to look for someone to attack. They said they left because there were too many people in the area, and started to follow a person on Washington Street but stopped after he got into a car. Rabell and Bundy said they then split into two groups, with Rabell and Rashad in one; Singleton said the smaller group was made up of Rabell and Bundy.
The three co-defendants also agreed that Matias asked Chew for a lighter as he walked down Huntington Street, then hit Chew in the face when he reached into his pocket. Rabell and Singleton admitted to taking part in the assault, while Bundy said he and Rashad, his cousin, did not. All three said they ran away from the scene soon after the attack started.
Rabell said Chew managed to get free and back in the direction of 2 Wives Pizza, but that Elahi ran after him and began hitting him in the abdomen. He said Bundy later told him that Elahi had stabbed Chew. Bundy said Elahi handed him a folding knife after the incident, and that he gave it back to him immediately. Singleton said he saw that Elahi had a knife when the group left his house, but was unaware that Chew had been killed until the next morning.
Elahi’s attorney, Bruce McIntyre, asked each co-defendant if they planned to kill someone when they went out; each one denied it. He also asked why the men had not told the police about the incident when they were first questioned and whether Bundy could clearly see what Elahi handed to him.
During McIntyre’s questioning, Rabell showed remorse for the incident. He said he wanted Chew’s family to know that his death wasn’t planned and said he is willing to face the consequences of his actions.
“I believe I was being a follower when I should have been a leader,” he said. “I believe I should have used my better judgment and led myself away from this situation and my friends as well.”
The day’s testimony, which included details of physician’s unsuccessful attempts to save Chew, was painful for his parents, Rick and Marilyn Chew. Rick said the family came to the hearing expecting to get information, and said it was difficult to hear about the plan to attack a random person. Rabell’s apology came as a welcome development.
“I was surprised,” said Marilyn. “I wasn’t expecting it. I just wasn’t thinking that I was going to hear it.”
“I think that’s the first indicator we’ve had of remorse in any of the individuals,” said Rick.
McIntyre is on vacation next week. The hearing, requested by the defense to show that the state had probable cause to suspect Elahi in Chew’s murder, will resume at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28.
Original breaking news:
A hearing has begun in Superior Court to determine whether prosecutors had probable cause to charge a 17-year old in an October murder.
Idris Elahi, of 20 Home Street, is accused of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He is one of six people charged in the Oct. 29 homicide of 25-year-old Matthew Chew, who was fatally stabbed that evening while walking from his workplace at 2 Wives Pizza to his apartment at 73 Washington Ave. Police have also charged 17-year-old Marquis Singleton of 50 Mountain Ave. with murder. Charged with accessory to murder are 18-year-olds Brian Rabell and Tyree Bundy of 93 State Pier Road, Matias Perry of 36 Wasau Place, and Rashad Perry of 281 Crystal Ave.
The morning witnesses discussed the scene immediately following the stabbing. Shaun Smalley, a Lincoln Ave. resident and employee at Mohegan Sun, said he was driving to a friend’s house when he came across Chew lying in the street at the intersection of Huntington Street and Jay Street. Smalley’s 911 call was introduced into evidence and played for the court. In it, Smalley asked Chew questions at the request of the dispatcher.
“You know what happened to you, buddy?” Smalley asks at one point. “He says he got jumped.”
Smalley said Chew did not seem to be seriously injured, though he did have blood on his face. Smalley said he had had four beers and one shot earlier in the evening, but did not believe his understanding of the situation was impaired.
Joshua Bergeson, the first police officer on the scene, said he recognized Chew because he frequently at 2 Wives Pizza. Bergeson said he applied pressure to Chew’s wounds and that Chew told him he had been stabbed, but became unresponsive soon after. Bergeson said he was later ordered to search the area while armed with his AR-15 rifle, per New London Police Department protocol for felony assaults, and that a K-9 was also brought in. Bergeson later patrolled the nearby streets due to the report that several people had been seen fleeing the area, but was not able to find anyone.
A paramedic and physician took the stand to describe the severity of Chew’s wounds. Chew’s pulse was restored after he went into cardiopulmonary arrest, but his wounds were considered serious enough that Dr. Jonathan Aki, an emergency room physician at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, decided to have him airlifted to the trauma center at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Chew died of his injuries there.
John Mortimer, corporate security protective serves manager with Bank of America, said two 24-hour cameras are located at the entrances to the Bank of America building in New London. A short clip showed a group of males walking down Washington Street toward the Huntington Street intersection at about 11:18 p.m., before the incident was reported.
According to a police affidavit, police identified Elahi and Singleton in this footage. The affidavit says one witness also said Bundy told her that Elahi was aggressive, and that the other people in the group backed off while Elahi continued to attack Chew. The woman said Bundy also told her that Elahi later handed him a knife.
Rabell’s girlfriend told police that Rabell told her that he had been with the other five people and that Elahi had stabbed someone. Matias’ girlfriend told police that he had told her Elahi and Singleton had stabbed Chew, and a friend of Elahi’s told police that he told her he had cut Chew and given the knife to Singleton.
According to the affidavit, Elahi told police he had been at home watching television on the night of the murder.