The family of Ryan Hacke, a Pittsburgh toddler who was shot dead in 1997, is lobbying against his killer’s parole.
In the 1997 case against Vaughn Mathis, prosecutors claimed he had fired nine shots at a teenager who had just gotten out of a van near the gas station where Ryan’s father had stopped to refuel. Mathis said he wasn’t the only one shooting and that his pistol discharged accidentally as he drew it from his pocket. He testified that the other shots were fired into the air were meant to scare the teens firing at him. Mathis is serving a 17 and ½- to 43- year sentence for multiple convictions, including involuntary manslaughter in the Hacke case. His earliest possible release date is July 23; he is tentatively scheduled to be interviewed for parole next month.
Ryan’s parents say they are prepared to spend the next 26 years fighting to make sure Mathis serves his full sentence.
“Ryan’s not here, but I’ll always be his mom and it’s my job to make it right for him,” Mrs. Hacke said. “No one fights harder than a mom or dad when it comes to [a] child.”
Mary Beth Hacke is a CeaseFirePA board member and a tireless gun violence prevention advocate.