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Illiterate man averts trial with plea in Dumont pornography case

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: Both sides avoided a trial just before opening arguments today when a physically and mentally disabled man admitted letting a 14-year-old boy look at pornographic magazines in his Dumont apartment.

“I tried to stop him, but I couldn’t,” Doug Matthews told Superior Court Judge James J. Guida. “I knew he was too young, but when he wouldn’t stop I just quit trying.”

Jurors were waiting to enter the courtroom as defense attorney Milagros Camacho and Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Dion Findley of the Sex Crimes Unit crafted a plea agreement that also satisfied requirements of the court.

Guida was careful and patient in explaining terms of the plea deal to Matthews, who is diabetic, asthmatic and illiterate.

Matthews, 48, then pleaded guilty to a charge of impairing the morals of a minor sometime between September 1, 2009 and June 19, 2010.

“Yes, it was wrong,” Matthews told the judge. “I can’t sleep and I’m having chest pains. I want this over with.”

Guida, in turn said that Matthews had been found competent to stand trial and, “in spite of his difficulties,” was able to communicate.

“He was present and assisted in the jury selection,” the judge added. “So as difficult as it is for him, he understands he has to be here to answer these charges.”

Questioned by Guida, Matthews — who now lives in a Moderate Security Unit (MSU) at New Lisbon Developmental Center — also said he was happy with Camacho as his attorney.

“I went through over five lawyers already, and every lawyer quit my case because they couldn’t do it,” he said.

Findley, the prosecutor, said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“We were ready to go,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , “but ultimately what we’ve been looking for from the beginning was arriving at a solution that had the defendant on parole supervision for life.

“And we’ve achieved that.”

More importantly, he said, the teen’s family was happy not having to go to trial.

Once the proceeding was over, Guida called in the jurors.

“Sometimes the selection of a jury causes the parties to rethink their positions and work to come up with a solution,” he told them. “This happened because you were here.

“Thank you, guys,” the judge said. “You’re free for the next two weeks.”

STORY / PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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