EVANSVILLE, In (WEHT) – After five days of trial, countless exhibits and numerous testimonies, in Evansville federal court, a jury reached a split verdict in a Henderson County woman’s death.
Johntavis Matlock, 31, of Evansville was accused of selling heroin to Lindsey Wiley of Reed, Kentucky which led to an overdose in December 2020 and her death in February 2021.
After deliberating on a mountain of exhibits from both prosecution and defense for over three hours, the jury reached guilty verdicts of the following:
- Distribution of Controlled Substance Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
- Possession of Firearm by a Felon
- Possession of Controlled Substance
The jury reached a not guilty verdict of Distribution of Controlled Substance Resulting in Death.
Before the jury started deliberations, Matlock took the stand to defend himself, and stated he had nothing to do with Wiley’s death that February. Matlock also testified he and Wiley did heroin that December night.
While prosecution tried to prove Matlock was involved in Wiley’s death, he vehemently denied stating, “I can only tell you what I know.”
During closing arguments, U.S. Attorney Kristian Mukoski pointed towards Matlock’s transactions with Wiley and enabling her use of drugs.
“He (Matlock) sold and distributed drugs to Lindsey Wiley that almost killed her and ultimately killed her,” he said. “The government found overwhelming evidence. We have evidence that those messages in question are from the defendant’s phone number. You saw 12 Cash App transactions between her and the defendant. He didn’t even try to contact until a few months after she died. These people communicated on a daily basis. He was not Lindsey’s friend. He was her enabler.”
Defense Attorney Jake Warrum countered towards different views of why everyone was there, missing messages and phone records, stating Wiley used multiple forms of communication with others.
“We were told all kinds of evidence that has nothing to do with the case,” he said. “The fight we have is who sold the drugs and what drugs caused the death. Isn’t it ironic there are three missing messages at the most crucial time? We have a bunch of messages that don’t exist. Where are the Facebook messages? Where’s the Snapchat? Where’s the Signal? Lindsey is meeting a lot of people for drugs, and there’s no investigation there.”
Warrum continued with questioning why a search of Wiley’s phone was done 50 days after her death instead of immediately.
“On February 28, there was no search done. I’m guessing we’d have a much different picture if the phone was seized December 11 and February 28.”
Warrum concluded with mentioning the prosecution’s burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The government must prove it, and they didn’t. He adamantly denied events on February 27. The government put on four days of evidence; they have to prove him guilty. At the end of the day, we have to make hard decisions.”
Warrum gave a quick comment after the ruling.
“Whether we agree or not, the decision of the jury must be respected,” he stated. “We are fortunate to live in a country with a due process that’s as good as ours.”
District Judge Matthew P. Brookman oversaw the case.
Sentencing will be set for a later date.