Tulsa Man Pleads No Contest To Murder, Assault Charges

Wednesday, May 26th 2010, 3:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa man accused of driving his car into a crowd and killing two people has pleaded no contest.

That means 26-year-old Andrew Mathis hasn't admitted guilt, but will be found guilty and is leaving his fate in the hands of a judge.

5/25/2010  Related Story: Tulsa Murder Suspect Expected To Plead No Contest

Mathis was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

It all happened Halloween night in 2008 when witnesses say Mathis knocked out a man in a parking lot fist fight, then ran over the crowd of people who gathered to help him.

"The only thing that we've always stood firm on is that we wanted justice for my brother. And for Dennis. And for the rest of the victims, said David Lopez, victim's brother.

After nearly two years, those families finally have that sense of justice. Andrew Mathis, charged with killing two men after a night of partying, could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"My position will be he does not get out of the penitentiary," Steve Kunzweiler, prosecutor, said. "Period."

Police say Mathis knocked out Dennis Cox as the bars were closing down, then drove his car into the crowd of onlookers. Cox and Carlos Lopez, a stranger who had knelt down to help, died. Five others were seriously injured.

"I just don't think he should be out. Ever," said Lilian Lopez, victim's sister. "He needs to be in there for the rest of his life."

The Lopez family is disappointed Mathis never admitted guilt.

"You always want somebody to admit guilt, and take responsibility for their actions," David Lopez said.

By pleading no contest, Mathis avoids a trial. Prosecutors are frustrated he never formally accepted responsibility.

We're only going to live this life once," Kunzweiler said. "And part of me thinks, you know, you accept responsibility for your actions."

Still, the judge made it very clear he will sentence Mathis to either life, or life without parole, something that gives David Lopez peace of mind.

"I'll take it," he said. "I'll take it as a win."

A judge will sentence Mathis on July 21st.

Even though he avoids a criminal trial, Mathis' legal battles are far from over. Several victims and surviving family members are suing Mathis for negligence, battery, and wrongful death.