THE CHRISTMAS KILLINGS OF 1992
On Christmas Eve 1992, Marvallous Matthew Keene and three other
Dayton youth began a 60-hour rampage of robbery and murder which left six
dead and two others wounded. Keene was sentenced to death for the crimes, and
the three others Heather Mathews, DeMarcus Smith and Laura Taylor were given
consecutive sentences which will probably keep them in jail for the rest of
WHO'S WHO -- THE KILLERS:
||Marvallous Matthew Keene:
Convicted: Oct. 12, 1993 of five counts of aggravated murder.
Sentenced: Oct 28, 1993 to death in the electric chair.
|| Heather Nicole Mathews:|
Guilty plea: 8/10-93 to aggravated murder charges in the deaths of
two of the six victims. She was present
at both killings, but did not fire any weapons.
Sentenced: Nov. 4, 1993 to two consecutive life terms for her role in the
killings, Mathews escaped the death penalty by agreeing to testify against the
others, but prosecutors said she has no chance of parole. After the trials Mathews was interviewed by DDN reporter Cheryl Reed.
|Laura Jeanne Taylor:
Convicted of two counts of aggravated murder and one count of murder.
Sentenced 1/26-94 to two consecutive life terms for the aggravated murders
of Joseph Wilkerson and Sarah Abraham, and 15 years to life for the murder of
Taylor's sentence means she will be eligible for parole until she is in
|DeMarcus Maurice Smith:|
Entered a guilty plea 2/15-94
Sentenced 2/15-94 to four consecutive life prison terms. The sentencing
prevents him from seeking parole for 124 years.
Smith, 18, accepted the agreement about 2 1/2 hours after his trial was
scheduled to begin.
WHO'S WHO -- THE VICTIMS:
KILLED: Joseph Wilkerson, 34, a neighbor of Keene's. Shot by Keene and
Taylor at his home at 3321 Prescott Ave in the early hours of Dec. 24, 1992.
He was the first victim.
KILLED: Danita Gullette, 18, shot while she stood at a pay phone at 517 Neal
Ave. late Christmas Eve. Keene told police he and DeMarcus Maurice Smith both
INJURED: Jeffrey Wright, 29, Mathews' former boyfriend. He was shot by
DeMarcus Smith on Christmas Eve.
KILLED: Richmond Maddox, 19, Laura Taylor's ex-boyfriend. He was shot once
in the head on Christmas Day while sitting in his car with Taylor in front of
2256 Benton Ave. According to Mathews, he was shot by Taylor, while others
followed behind in their car.
KILLED: Sarah Abraham, 38, shot the morning of Dec. 26 as she stood behind
the counter at the Short Stop Mini Market at 1201 W. Fifth St. Mathews
testified that Taylor entered the store first to scout it and that Keene and
Smith followed them in. Keene was accused of shooting Abraham in the mouth and
top of the head.
WOUNDED: Jones Pettis, 67, one of two customers in the grocery story with
Abraham, was shot in the stomach. The other customer, Edward Thompason, 71,
faked being shot.
KILLED: Wendy Cottrill, 16, a close friend of Laura Taylor's, was shot about
mid-day on Dec. 26 by Keene, who stuck the muzzle of his gun in her mouth for
the first shot. (see Washington below)
KILLED: Marvin Washington, 18, Cottrill's boyfriend, was shot at nearly the
same time by DeMarcus Smith. Both were shot and left at a city gravel storage
area off the 1600 block of Richley Drive.
12-24-92 In the early hours of Christmas Eve, Joseph Wilkerson invited Keene,
Mathews and Laura Taylor into his home in anticipation of an orgy. As the four
began undressing, Keene produced a gun and held it on Wilkerson while the two
women tied him to his bed with an electrical cord. Keene later admitted to
police that he then shot Wilkerson in the chest with Wilkerson's own gun.
According to Mathews' testimony, Laura Taylor then shot Wilkerson in the right
temple, using Keene's gun because Wilkerson's had misfired.
12-24-92, about 10 p.m., Danita Gullette, 18, was talking on a pay phone at
517 Neal Ave. Police said Gullette was targeted because Smith decided he
wanted Gullette's Fila tennis shoes. Gullette was shot seven times, one
bullet was fatal, and died later at the hospital. According to Keene, he
joined Demarcus Smith and they both shot her.
12-25-92, 12:30 a.m. Jeffrey Wright, 29, a friend of the group and Mathews'
ex-boyfriend, was shot four times outside of 157 Yuma Place. According to
Mathews, Wright was shot by DeMarcus Smith, her new boyfriend. She said they
later talked about going to the hospital and "finishing him off."
12-25-92, 8:50 p.m. Richmond Maddox, 19, the ex-boyfriend of Laura Taylor, is
shot in the head while sitting in his car in front of 2256 Benton Ave. He died
later at Good Samaritan Hospital Mathews said Taylor used Wilkerson's to shoot
12-26-92, 7:50 a.m. Sarah Abraham, 37, clerk at the Short Stop Mini Market at
1201 W. Fifth St. was shot in the face. A customer at the store, Jones Pettus,
67, was shot in the stomach. Pettus survived, but Abraham died after lingering
in a coma. According to Mathews, Keene and Smith shot Abraham and Pettus. The
take from the robbery, Mathews testified, was $44.
12-26-92 Later the same day, according to Mathews, they began talking about
which of their friends should be killed to prevent them from telling. She said
they decided to kill Taylor's friend, Wendy Cottrill, 16, and her 18-year-old
boyfriend, Marvin Washington.
They picked up the pair and bought some beer and wine. Mathews said Keene
then announced he had to urinate and drove into a field at 1654 Richie Drive.
After the car had stopped, Keene and Smith drew their guns and forced
Washington and Cottrill out of the car. The two were marched at gunpoint away
from the car and behind a pile of dirt. There they were shot. Wendy Cottrill
was shot first in the mouth, then in the heart and abdomen.
12-26-92, 1:40 p.m. A Dayton police sergeant spots a black Dodge Shadow.
Police arrest the four people in the car and confiscate several weapons.
Checking the license plate on the car, police learn it is registered to
Wilkerson. They enter his home and find his body.
12-29-92 Keene and Mathews are arraigned, and held on bond of $5 million
MATHEWS PLEADS GUILTY:
8-6-93 Working on a plea agreement, prosecutors James Levinson and Angela
Frydman meet with Heather Mathews at the county jail from 10:45 p.m. to 2:30
a.m. to hear what she had to reveal about the killings.
8-10-93 At 5 p.m., after court employees have left the courtroom and with no
media present, Heather Mathews pleads guilty to aggravated murder charges in
the deaths of two of the six victims, Joseph Wilkerson and Sarah Abraham. She
was present at both killings, but did not fire any weapons. Defense attorneys
said the deal was struck to spare Mathews the death penalty. Sentencing is
delayed until after Keene's trial, but it is known from the start that Mathews
would be imprisoned for nearly all her life.
9-30-93 Keene chose to be tried by a three-judge panel instead of a jury. The
judges are: Judge Robert Brown of Montgomery County Common Pleas Court; Judge
Robert Nichols of Madison County; and Judge Lee Bixler of Darke County.
Keene's attorneys are Michael Monta and Dennis Adkins. The prosecution is
handled by assistant Montgomery County Prosecutors James Levinson and Angela
10-5-93 Heather Mathews testifies against Keene.
10-28-93 Keene is sentenced to death.
MATHEWS SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
11-4-93 Heather Nicole Mathews, now 21, is sentenced to two consecutive prison
terms for her role in the killings. Although her plea agreement saved her from
execution, the sentence means Mathews will never be paroled. Montgomery County
Common Pleas Judge Robert Brown
LAURA TAYLOR'S TRIAL
1-26-94 Taylor sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
DEMARCUS SMITH'S TRIAL
2-15-94 DeMarcus Maurice Smith accepts a plea agreement hours before his trial
is scheduled to begin. He is sentenced to four consecutive life terms.
Click below to generate a search on the electronic library
for more stories on the 1992 Christmas killings.
File Created: 4-7-1994
Prepared by: Dayton Daily News Library staff
Sources: DDN reports, jail records.