An infamous local felon has been indicted in a federal heroin trafficking conspiracy that has again put his most notorious exploit at the center of the case.
Matthew Davis, 46, the scion of a wealthy family who has made as much as $8,000 a month from a family trust fund, was convicted of abandoning his girlfriend’s corpse after she died of a drug overdose in 2004.
The new federal court case seeks to use the death of the girlfriend, Amber McGathey, 22, to potentially get life sentences against eight people, including Davis, charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin, according to federal court records.
The conspiracy purportedly provided the heroin that killed McGathey, the charges allege. That opened the possibility of life sentences for everyone convicted in the conspiracy and a mandatory life sentence for any already convicted of a drug felony.
According to Kansas corrections records, Davis was convicted of a federal drug felony in 1986.
McGathey’s father, Boyd McGathey, called the new charges against Davis good news.
“I’m encouraged there’s hope for justice yet for my daughter,” Boyd McGathey said. “She’s dead, and he’s the only one who knows how she died. It could lead to him being accountable for her death.”
Amber McGathey died after she and Davis had been using drugs in his apartment, according to evidence presented in both civil and criminal cases. After putting the body in a sport utility vehicle, Davis at one point drove the vehicle while he went out with another woman with the body in the back.
The body was found later after it had decomposed for days.
Davis initially was sentenced to 22 years in that case, seven years for abandoning a corpse and 15 years for three counts of possession of a controlled substance. A judge later set aside those convictions amid allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. Davis was convicted again but was sentenced to four years, about a year less than he already had served.
In an unusual civil lawsuit, a Jackson County jury found that Davis should pay his girlfriend’s family $500,000 for mistreating a corpse.
Since his release in the corpse abandonment case, Davis has continued to brush against the law.
In 2010, he was convicted of driving while intoxicated.
And last year a Kansas judge sentenced Davis to 39 months in prison for almost running over a police officer in a dine-and-dash getaway.
Davis reportedly sped away from an Olathe restaurant, carrying a bucket of beer for which he had not paid. He drove to a house in Olathe, where he later surrendered after a standoff that lasted for hours.
Though Davis’ role is critical to the penalty aspects of the new federal case, he is not the lead defendant. That distinction goes to Timothy M. Kirlin, 32, who prosecutors contend is a large-scale heroin trafficker who has been under intense investigation for years.
Kirlin has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Davis, who is incarcerated in a Kansas prison, has not made his initial appearance.
His lawyer, Pat Peters, declined Friday to comment on the new case.
Prosecutors initially charged Kirlin in February but last month issued new charges that included Davis. A Kansas City federal judge unsealed those charges last week.