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A New Jersey man who went on a racially charged tirade and terrorized his neighborhood must serve time in prison, WPVI-TV reports.
On Friday, 47-year-old Edward Cagney Mathews was sentenced to eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to charges of bias intimidation and a drug offense. Mathews, who is white, sparked outrage in July 2021 when a video of him confronting a black neighbor went viral.
The video showed Mathews calling the neighbor a “monkey,” using a racial slur, thumping his chest, and spitting on the victim, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Hundreds of people soon gathered outside of Mathew’s home in Mount Laurel, a town about 17 miles east of Philadelphia, and urged police to arrest him.
Mathews alleged that he was drunk at the time of the racial tirade, but authorities uncovered years of complaints alleging similar behavior, including that he referred to black neighbors regularly as “monkeys,” left feces on their properties, shot vehicles with BB pellets and sent threatening letters and emails.
The drug charge was added after police found psilocin mushrooms in Mathew’s home, Fox 29 reports.
On Friday, Mathew apologized to the victims in court for what he referred to as “insensitive and disrespectful words in the past,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. I want to commit to rebuild the community.”
Some of the victims told the court how Mathews affected them.
“The actions of what he did will forever stay a nightmare of the fear and anxiety he bestowed upon me,” Denise Brown, a former neighbor, said in a written statement to the court, according to the Inquirer. “I’m constantly looking over my shoulder and trusting no one.”
Although the sentence was four to eight years, the judge credited Mathews for 886 days he already served behind bars. He will be eligible for parole in 16 months.
Mathews also was ordered to participate in racial sensitivity training in prison and pay $4,408 in restitution.
[Feature Photo: Edward Cagney Mathews/Burlington County Jail]