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A white New Jersey man caught on camera hurling racial slurs at his black neighbors was ordered held in jail Wednesday until his trial at the end of August.
Edward Cagney Mathews — who was arrested July 5 after protesters gathered for hours outside his Mount Laurel home — appeared virtually for the detention hearing, where Superior Court Judge Terrence Cook deemed him to be a “high risk” and a “threat to the community” while denying his release, the Burlington County Times reported.
Mathews, who did not speak during the proceeding, was initially charged with three counts of harassment with the purpose to intimidate a person based on race. He was later charged with additional counts, including weapons and drug violations, prosecutors said.
Mathews, 45, was charged after two July 2 incidents during which prosecutors said he lobbed racial slurs at four neighbors. Video of the heated encounter, which went viral on social media, showed him face-to-face with a black man while telling him, “This is not Africa … or wherever the f–k you were,” video shows.
Mathews also repeatedly used the N-word and “monkey” while talking about his black neighbors, according to the clip.
Mathews is facing 14 counts in all, including stalking charges. Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Hutchinson said Wednesday that Mathews started harassing homeowners association board members of color more than a year earlier by smashing a neighbor’s car with a rock and smearing it with fecal matter.
FBI investigators also believe handwriting on a note to a neighbor of Mathews matched his, Hutchinson said. The message was sent during a disagreement with black homeowners association board members and after a former board member he pressured had moved, Hutchinson said.
“One down only a few more to go,” the note read.
Charging documents show the July 2 confrontation started when Mathews knocked on a neighbor’s door and demanded to see the woman’s husband, who is black. The man’s wife, who is white, then called police and another neighbor met Mathews on a stoop.
Earlier in the day, a black woman called cops and accused Mathews of harassing her and shouting racial slurs. Prosecutors said a doorbell camera captured Mathews in the woman’s front yard while repeating the slur.
A search of Mathews’ home revealed a slingshot and nearly 50 ball bearings, leading to new charges against him. Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement the warrant was approved after Mount Laurel police applied for an extreme risk protection order against Mathews, prohibiting him from possessing any firearms.
“The ERPO was issued based on the implied threat of the use of weapons Mathews made to neighbors,” Coffina said.
An investigation found Mathews had fired ball bearings at two vehicles belonging to female neighbors, causing $2,350 in damage, Coffina said.
Mathews’ attorney, Anthony Rizzo, said the evidence obtained via the order was faulty because his client posed no risk since he was already jailed at the time.
Investigators also found hallucinogenic mushrooms and packaging materials in Mathews’ home during the search, leading to the drug charge, prosecutors said.
A pre-indictment hearing has been set for Mathews for Aug. 25, the Burlington County Times reported.
Cook’s ruling did not match a computer-generated assessment indicating Mathews could be released from custody ahead of trial. The judge noted the Mount Laurel man’s 20 prior convictions and the “racially derogatory language” as factors in his decision.
With Post wires
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