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David Eugene MATTHEWS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Robbery
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: June 29, 1981
Date of birth: September 6, 1948
Victims profile: Mary "Marlene" Matthews (his estranged wife) and Magdalene Cruse (his mother-in-law)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 11, 1982

MATTHEWS, DAVID EUGENE, DOB 9-6-48, was sentenced to death November 11, 1982 in Jefferson County for the murders of Mary Matthews and Magdalene Cruse on June 29, 1981 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mary Matthews was his estranged wife and Magdalene Cruse was his mother-in-law. In the process of committing these crimes he burglarized his wife’s home. He was tried and convicted on October 8, 1982.


This killer burglarized his estranged wife's home in Jefferson County in 1981. He executed his mother-in-law by shooting her in the back of the head: she agonized and convulsed for 8 hours before dying. 


Mary Matthews
Magdalene Cruse



Judge recommends overturning death sentence in 1981 murder

By Brett Barrouquette - Associated Press Writer

Apr 22, 2008

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A federal magistrate recommended on Tuesday that a death sentence for Kentucky's third-longest serving death row inmate be overturned even though the evidence of guilt is "quite clear."

Prosecutors did not make the case that David Eugene Matthews was not suffering from extreme emotional distress when he killed his wife and mother in law, which should have prompted a judge to issue acquittals, U.S. Magistrate James D. Moyer of Louisville wrote in a 220-page decision.

The judge failed to order the acquittals, so Matthews should get a new trial, Moyer said.

"The evidence adduced by the Commonwealth at trial was substantial, and it is quite clear to this court that Matthews perpetrated the acts for which he stood trial," Moyer wrote. "It is equally clear, however, that two of Matthews' many challenges to the constitutionality of his convictions and sentence present problems of such a constitutional magnitude that this court must recommend issuing the requested writ of habaes corpus."

Matthews, 59, was sentenced to death Nov. 11, 1982 in Louisville for the murders of his wife, Mary "Marlene" Matthews, and mother-in-law, Magdalene Cruse, on June 29, 1981.

U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II must review the opinion and either order Matthews retried or overturn Moyer's ruling. Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway, said prosecutors will petition Heyburn to set aside Moyer's recommendation and let the conviction stand.

"We are disappointed with the magistrate's report," Martin said.

Alan Freedman, an attorney with the Midwest Center for Justice in Evanston, Ill., who represents Matthews, did not immediately return a message asking for comment.

Matthews raised multiple issues in a federal appeal. Moyer rejected nearly all the claims, but said the trial judge erred in handling Matthews' claim of suffering from "extreme emotional disturbance" at the time of the killings.

"Matthews made a sufficient showing of EED at the trial," Moyer wrote.

Moyer also found that Matthews' attorney failed to argue on appeal that jurors were not properly instructed about how to handle the extreme emotional distress defense.

Kentucky's law at the time Matthews went to trial required prosecutors to prove a beyond a reasonable doubt that Matthews did not suffer from extreme emotional distress. Prosecutors failed to put on any expert witnesses to rebut Matthews' claim.

Because of that failure, the trial judge should have ordered Matthews acquitted on the murder charges, and the jury should have been instructed about what prosecutors had to prove, Moyer wrote. Because the judge didn't do either, Matthews is entitled to a new trial, Moyer wrote.



David Eugene Matthews



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