A Wake County jury showed better judgment than prosecutors in finding Charles and Kimberly Matthews of Raleigh not guilty of aiding and abetting underage drinking. The couple faced criminal charges in the death of a young man who crashed his car after leaving a wedding party at their home last year. Jonathon “JT” Taylor was only 18 and a friend of the couple’s son.
Taylor’s blood alcohol content measured at more than twice the legal limit. He was a good young man about to go to college, doing what many underage teenagers do, and his family deserves the sympathy and compassion of all. They have suffered.
The question in this trial, however, was whether Matthews, a doctor, and his wife in effect supplied alcohol to underage youngsters and should have more closely observed what teenagers at the party were up to. Their defense attorney, Hart Miles, argued that the case was more about the understandable emotional reaction to Taylor’s death, but lacked evidence connecting the Matthewses to the reasons for it.
The Wake County District Attorney’s office probably should not have proceeded with this case. Taylor’s parents will likely bring a civil action, which is their right, of course. But the verdict in this case was the right one.