In a preliminary hearing Monday, Judge Russell Canan ordered Tracy Mathis to be held without bond after the court found probable cause to believe the charge of second-degree murder. Mathis is suspected of stabbing and killing India Chapple in his home on April 19 in Southeast Washington.
Judge Canan said although the defense argued convincingly that Chapple was the aggressor in the incident, the force with which Mathis allegedly acted was too excessive to be deemed self-defense. Defense attorney Kia Sears argued Chapple followed Mathis and attacked him, making his actions warranted.
Metropolitan Police Detective King Watts testified Monday that the crime scene team found no evidence of a struggle in Mathis’ apartment and that someone appeared to have tried to clean a patch of blood found at the door.
Watts said Mathis told him Chapple had forced her way into his apartment, thrown his laptop, punched him in the face and poked him in the eyes while sitting on top of him before Mathis stabbed her with a foldable hand-width knife.
Mathis later told police the location of the knife he said he used in the fight.
Mathis and Chapple had children together, according to Watts’ testimony, and the two had a history of sometimes-violent arguments. Mathis pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge in 2006, but according Watts’ recount of a witness’ testimony, Chapple was also an aggressor in the disputes at times.
On Friday, Watts testified that the night Chapple was killed, police found a trail of blood leading from Mathis’ door to where two witnesses found Chapple conscious but severely injured. One of the witnesses, who Watts said was dating Mathis, later brought Mathis to the police station, where he was cooperative and forthcoming.
There were no signs of injury to Mathis when he arrived at the police station and the defendant did not complain of any pain, Watts said on Monday, although the detective admitted he did not look for injuries anywhere not immediately visible to him.
Judge Canan denied Sears’ request to release Mathis, citing a long list of prior charges, including several weapons charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Worm said Monday “it’s possible” that a plea offer will be extended in the case.
A felony status conference is scheduled at 10 a.m. on Sept. 5.
Additional reporting by Kristian Hernandez.