Felony murder charges filed in Saturday’s double fatality crash

Charles T. Matthews

Charles T. Matthews of Kansas City, Kan., faces multiple felony charges in connection with the deaths of two people killed last Saturday at Independence Avenue and Hardesty Avenue when he crashed into their vehicle as he was fleeing from Kansas City, Kan., Police (KCKPD) officers.

Matthews faces two counts of 2nd Degree Murder, Resisting Arrest While Fleeing Causing Serious Injury or Death and Tampering with a motor vehicle in connection with the case.

According to police records, on January 7, KCKPD officers were dispatched to the 400 block of N. 18th Street in Kansas City, Kan., on a reported armed robbery. Officers determined that a white 2013 GMC Terrain had been stolen after the defendant allegedly threatened a teen with a knife while stealing the vehicle.

KCK police officers later attempted to stop the vehicle and pursued it into Kansas City, Mo. The vehicle fled through Downtown Kansas City along the North Loop, then turned east on Independence Avenue, reaching speeds upwards of 100 mph and repeatedly disregarding traffic control signals.

Matthews continued east on the Avenue at a high rate of speed, through a red traffic signal at Hardesty Ave., striking a Nissan Altima traveling north on Hardesty, driven by Gabriela K. Trejo-Garcia. Juan Avila, a passenger in the Nissan was declared deceased at the scene. Trejo-Garcia was transported to a local hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Further investigation revealed that the White GMC Terrain Matthews was driving was traveling at roughly 77 mph .5 seconds prior to striking the Nissan. Additionally, Matthews did not possess a valid operator’s license at the time of the crash.

Matthews was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. He remains in police custody.

KCKPD will face no consequences for initiating a car chase that crossed state lines, resulting in a fatality crash.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 250,000 high speed police chases occur nationally every year. About 6,000-8,000 of those chases result in a collision, killing around 500 people and injuring about 5,000.

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