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Man who killed neighbor over fireworks dispute sentenced to 37 years

Former corrections officer Scott Mathews was convicted in the July 4, 2019, murder of Jaharie Wheeler in Aurora during an argument about children shooting fireworks.

AURORA, Colo. — A former corrections officer convicted in the deadly July 4, 2019, shooting of his neighbor in Aurora over a dispute about children setting off fireworks was sentenced to 37 years in prison Wednesday.

An Arapahoe County jury in December found Scott Mathews guilty of second-degree murder, felony menacing and assault in the death of Jaharie Wheeler at their Aurora apartment complex.

The altercation began between the two men's girlfriends. Wheeler's girlfriend told Aurora Police Department officers that they returned to their apartment about 10:30 p.m., after leaving a fireworks show, according to the arrest affidavit.

> The video above is from July 2019.

She then watched as her 14-year-old stepson and 9-year-old daughter shot off fireworks in the courtyard of the apartment complex located in the 16000 block of East Alameda Place, the affidavit says.

Mathews' girlfriend told police she yelled at the children because the fireworks scared her dog, according to the affidavit.

The two women argued before Mathews stepped in. At one point he headbutted Wheeler's girlfriend, who also told police that he pointed a handgun at her before holstering it, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Affidavit: Corrections officer shot neighbor during argument about fireworks

Wheeler's girlfriend threw a drink at Mathews. Eventually, Wheeler became involved in the argument, according to the affidavit.

Wheeler noticed blood on his girlfriend's face from when Mathews headbutted her, and he punched Mathews, the affidavit says.

The men continued to struggle. Mathews pulled out his handgun again and shot Wheeler once, according to the affidavit.

Wheeler was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Mathews was arrested at the apartment complex. During his arrest, he told the officer, "I shot him," the affidavit says.

Mathews was a corrections officer with the Colorado Department of Corrections when the shooting took place.

Amanda Kesting and Nate Lynn contributed to the reporting of this story. 

RELATED: Aurora man who shot neighbor during dispute over fireworks convicted of second degree murder

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