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Ignacio man suspected in wife’s death wants trial, not plea deal

Damon Mathews: ‘I’m not taking a ... deal’
Mathews

In an expletive-filled statement, an Ignacio man accused of murdering his wife during a New Year’s Eve dispute said he did not want a plea agreement, but instead wanted to go to trial.

“This (expletive) right here is trying to give me a deal – man, when a life’s been lost. This is a serious thing. ... You know, I’m not taking a (expletive) deal,” Damon Mathews told 6th Judicial District Court Judge Suzanne Carlson.

Mathews’ statement came after he had been asked if he would agree to waive a preliminary hearing in his case. At a preliminary hearing, prosecutors must present enough evidence to convince a judge that a crime was committed and the defendant is connected with it. Matthews agreed to waive his right to a preliminary hearing.

Mathews, 44, was before Carlson for a status hearing on Monday. Carlson scheduled an arraignment for Mathews on June 17.

He is charged with first-degree murder on suspicion of killing his wife, Rachel Ream, 47, at her home in Ignacio.

Rachel Ream was found dead Jan. 1 in her Ignacio home. Authorities have since arrested her husband, Damon Matthews, in connection with her death. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

Despite a protection order issued in November 2020 that said Mathews was not allowed to have contact with Ream, Mathews was reportedly living in a back house on Ream’s property in Ignacio.

In a Jan. 1 interview with police on the Front Range, Mathews told officers Ream and he were celebrating New Year’s Eve when they got into an altercation. Mathews said he became concerned officers would be called and he would have to go back to jail.

Mathews told law officers he began to strangle Ream.

He then went into Ream’s house, retrieved a gun and shot her once in the head. Then, he took her car keys and money, and drove to the Denver-metro area.

Mathews called 911 on New Year’s Day after a car tire blew out. He was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and extradited to La Plata County.

Before Ream’s death, Mathews had been arrested Nov. 24 on suspicion of domestic violence against her.

Mathews posted a $1,500 bail on Dec. 25.

District Attorney Christian Champagne has told The Durango Herald his office was aware of Mathews’ extensive criminal history, which included multiple domestic violence convictions.

On Nov. 25, the office had intended to request Mathews’ bail be raised to $10,000, but because of a “breakdown in communication,” Champagne said the courtroom attorney handling the case was never informed about the office’s desire to increase bail.

At the time, Mathews’ charges were for misdemeanors, and according to court procedures, the standard bail amount for a Class 1 misdemeanor is $1,500.

According to court records, before the Nov. 24 assault, Mathews had been convicted four times since 2003 on domestic violence-related crimes. He had been arrested twice before for domestic violence charges against Ream.

Also, it was well-known Ream was in fear of Mathews.

The arrest affidavit, written by the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy who investigated the case, says, “Rachel stated she was in fear of Damon, and was afraid of what he may do if she reported the incident to law enforcement.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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