Three Members of Matusiewicz Family Receive Life Sentences
WILMINGTON, Del. – David C. Weiss, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, Kevin L. Perkins, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Division, and Nathaniel McQueen, Jr., Colonel, Delaware State Police, announced today that United States District Court Judge Gerald A. McHugh sentenced Defendants David T. Matusiewicz, Lenore Matusiewicz, and Amy Gonzalez to each serve a term of life imprisonment.
Following a five week jury trial this past summer, 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 today in Delaware, Judge McHugh concluded that David Matusiewicz and his father, Thomas Matusiewicz, acted with premeditated intent in the February 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 Christine Belford’s children.
Defendants Lenore Matusiewicz and Amy Gonzalez likewise received life sentences from Judge McHugh. Defendant Lenore Matusiewicz was sentenced at her bedside last week at Jefferson Medical Center in Philadelphia. Defendant Amy Gonzalez was sentenced after her brother’s sentence was imposed. Judge McHugh concluded that Defendant Gonzalez’s overall stalking conduct was inextricably intertwined with the conduct of her family members and that it was reasonably foreseeable to Defendant 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 Christine 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 Christine 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, Christine Belford. 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 Christine 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 Christine Belford.
After his release from federal custody, David Matusiewicz resided in southern Texas. On January 8, 2013, David Matusiewicz sought and received permission from the United States Probation Office in Texas to travel to Delaware to attend a child support arrearage hearing he had requested. That hearing was scheduled for February 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 February 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 Christine 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 Christine Belford multiple times as she entered the courthouse lobby, killing her. He then shot Laura 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.