• Did loophole in Tennessee state law lead to Thaddeus Matthews' son's death?

    By: Zach Crenshaw

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Did a loophole in Tennessee state law lead to one man’s death??

    Police said Thaddeus Matthew’s son, Kenya, was hit and killed by a drunk driver, Melvin Willies.

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    Willies was on probation for reckless driving, and he had multiple DUI convictions in his past.

    Matthews sued Shelby County and its probation office last week for his son’s death.

    Matthews’ lawsuit claims the city failed to make sure an interlock device was on the car after the judge ordered one.

    County officials told FOX13 Tuesday that procedure was followed in Willie’s case, and that the county probation department cannot require an interlock device for someone with a restricted driver’s license.

    Less than three months before the accident where Kenya Matthews died, Willies received a probation order, which had a special order from the judge to, “install igniter interlock.”

    No interlock was on Willies’ car on June 15 when police said he hit Matthews.

    “I think that's an obvious loophole, and that loophole was exploited in this case,” said Antonio Parkinson, TN State Representative for Memphis.

    Representative Parkinson said trusting a convicted offender not to drive is not enough of a deterrent.

    “I can guarantee you that someone out there is driving on a suspended or revoked license after being convicted of a DWI or DUI,” said Parkinson. “I would say you do as much as you possibly can to protect the citizens of Tennessee.”

    So what about that judge’s order?

    A top DUI lawyer in Shelby County told FOX13 a judge cannot order an offender to get an interlock device, but only order an offender to drive with an interlock.

    He also said that the offender has to have a driver’s license to have an interlock placed on their car. 

    He cautioned that if the “loophole” was closed and interlocks were put on offender’s cars without a license that people would just claim they do not own a car.

    Parkinson said he will look into the loopholes and laws for solutions after Kenya Matthews life was cut short, so another convicted offender is not able to get behind the wheel.

    Shelby County’s Probation Office and the Shelby County District Attorney’s office both declined FOX13’s request for interviews, citing Matthew’s pending lawsuit. ​

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