An Arapahoe County District Court jury has returned guilty verdicts against the Aurora man who shot and killed his neighbor after an argument over Independence Day fireworks in 2019.
Scott Alan Mathews Jr., 29, was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Jaharie Wheeler, who was 38 years old when he was killed.
“Bringing a gun to an argument can lead to tragic consequences, and that is the case here,” said District Attorney John Kellner. “The defendant made a horrible decision, and he will pay the consequences. The family of Mr. Wheeler will live with the result of that horrible decision for the rest of their lives.”
On July 4, 2019, Mathews and his girlfriend came home from work and walked outside with their dogs, in the courtyard of their apartment complex. Mathews was an off-duty Department of Corrections Officer. They confronted neighbors about setting off fireworks, including two children. The argument continued between Mathews and his girlfriend and Wheeler’s family. Mathews unholstered his personal handgun, pointed it at Wheeler’s fiancé and headbutted her during the argument. Wheeler came into the courtyard to defend his fiancé. As Mathews and Wheeler started to fight, Mathews pulled out his handgun and shot Wheeler in the chest. Wheeler was unarmed. He was pronounced deceased at Aurora Medical Center that night.
“This tragic murder was completely devastating to Jaharie Wheeler’s family, who never should have lost him that night. After what started as an argument over fireworks, he was killed in front of his fiancé and children for standing up to defend them,”, said Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes, who prosecuted the trial with Deputy District Attorney Justin Friedberg.
The jury convicted Mathews of all counts:
• One count of Murder 2, a Class 2 felony
• One count of felony menacing with a deadly weapon, a Class 5 felony
• One count of Assault 3, a Class 1 misdemeanor
Sentencing is set for April 27, 2022. The presumptive sentencing range for a Class 2 felony is 16-48 years in prison.