Three Family Members Receive Life Sentences for Courthouse Murder Conspiracy
David T. Matusiewicz, Lenore Matusiewicz and Amy Gonzalez were sentenced yesterday in federal court in Delaware to life in prison for the February 2013 murder of David Matusiewicz’s ex-wife and a friend at the New Castle County Courthouse, announced Acting U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss for the District of Delaware, Special Agent in Charge Kevin L. Perkins for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Baltimore Division and Colonel Nathaniel McQueen Jr. for the Delaware State Police.
Following a five week jury trial this past summer, the defendants were convicted of conspiracy, interstate stalking resulting in death and cyberstalking resulting in death. This was the first case in the nation where defendants were convicted of cyberstalking resulting in death.
After a lengthy sentencing hearing in Delaware, Judge McHugh concluded that David Matusiewicz and his father, Thomas Matusiewicz, acted with premeditated intent in the Feb. 11, 2013, murder of his ex-wife, Christine Belford, at the New Castle County Courthouse. Thomas Matusiewicz also shot and killed Laura “Beth” Mulford, who accompanied Belford to the courthouse that morning. Judge McHugh determined that, based on defendant’s repeated criminal conduct and the serious nature of the offense, which included “contempt for the law,” only a life sentence would protect the community and Belford’s children.
Lenore Matusiewicz and Gonzalez likewise received life sentences from Judge McHugh. Lenore Matusiewicz was sentenced at her bedside last week at Jefferson Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gonzalez was sentenced after her brother’s sentence was imposed. Judge McHugh concluded that Gonzalez’s overall stalking conduct was inextricably intertwined with the conduct of her family members and that it was reasonably foreseeable to Gonzalez that an act of violence would occur when her brother, mother and father left for Delaware in early February 2013.
“The life sentences imposed by Judge McHugh were necessary to punish the defendants and to protect Christine Belford’s children and our community,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Weiss. “We hope that these sentences provide some comfort to the victims’ families and we thank the law enforcement and legal communities for their contributions to the successful prosecution of this case.”
“The Matusiewicz family caused a lot of unnecessary harm in this case, killing and injuring innocent people for no reason, said Special Agent in Charge Perkins. “This ground-breaking prosecution and investigation shows people who actively take part in planning crimes, even though they don't pull the trigger, will be held accountable.”
“The Delaware State Police supports the decision of the jury and the judge for holding all defendants in this case fully accountable for their actions,” said Colonel McQueen Jr. “The successful prosecution and sentencing of the defendants responsible in the first federal conviction of cyber-stalking resulting in death is truly welcomed news for all federal, state and local law enforcement involved in the investigation. This investigation is a landmark case that emphasizes the impact and benefit to the community when all agencies are working together.”
According to the evidence presented at trial and sentencing, David Matusiewicz and Belford were involved in divorce and child custody proceedings in the family court of Delaware in 2007. In August 2007, David Matusiewicz and his mother, Lenore Matusiewicz, kidnapped the three young children born of his marriage to Belford and fled to South America. In March 2009, David and Lenore Matusiewicz and the young children were found living in a motor home in Nicaragua. David and Lenore Matusiewicz were arrested and prosecuted in Delaware and the children were returned to the care of their mother. In September 2009, David and Lenore Matusiewicz each pleaded guilty to crimes relating to their kidnapping of the children.
In December 2009, David Matusiewicz was sentenced in federal court to 48 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervision by the U.S. Probation Office. In the days following his December 2009 sentencing, David Matusiewicz began to orchestrate, from his prison cell, a course of conduct designed to stalk, harass and intimidate Belford and her children. He enlisted his father, mother, sister and various other persons in this effort, which stretched from December 2009 to February 2013. The Matusiewicz family’s stalking campaign included broad dissemination -- by mail, email, websites, Internet postings and other means – of false and defamatory allegations against Belford.
After his release from federal custody, David Matusiewicz resided in southern Texas. On Jan. 8, 2013, David Matusiewicz sought and received permission from the U.S. Probation Office in Texas to travel to Delaware to attend a child support arrearage hearing he had requested. That hearing was scheduled for Feb. 11, 2013. David Matusiewicz never informed the probation officer that he intended to travel to Delaware with Thomas and Lenore Matusiewicz.
On the morning of Feb. 11, 2013, David and Thomas Matusiewicz drove to a hotel parking garage near the New Castle County Courthouse in a Honda CRV, which contained ammunition, a military style knife, three sets of restraints of progressively smaller sizes, a bullet proof vest, an electric shock device, binoculars and photographs of Belford’s children and residence. After entering the courthouse lobby at approximately 7:30 a.m., David Matusiewicz entered and stayed in the security screening line, while Thomas Matusiewicz moved around the lobby, occasionally approaching and talking to David Matusiewicz.
Shortly before 8:00 a.m., David Matusiewicz passed through courthouse security screening and walked to another floor of the building. Thomas Matusiewicz remained in the lobby, where he shot Belford multiple times as she entered the courthouse lobby, killing her. He then shot Mulford multiple times as she attempted to flee. After a shootout during which he shot and injured two Capitol Police officers, Thomas Matusiewicz died on the sidewalk of the courthouse of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Delaware State Police and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamie M. McCall and Shawn A. Weede.