DADE CITY, Fla. – Adam Matos will spend the rest of his life in prison following his conviction for murdering his ex-girlfriend, her parents and her new boyfriend in August 2014.
Only one of the 12 jurors voted against the death penalty.
Death penalty verdicts must be unanimous.
He has 30 days to appeal.
Prior to the verdict, and following statements from the victims' families, Matos apologized for his crimes (Warning - There is explicit language in the video):
Matos fired point blank into the eye of Megan Brown, 27, after shooting her father, Gregory, 52, in the back and abdomen.
He then used a hammer to bludgeon Brown’s boyfriend, Nick Leonard, 37, and mother, Margaret, 52, to death.
The killings took place while his four-year-old autistic son was in the home. Megan Brown is the child's mother.
Matos said the killings were in self-defense and he feared for his life.
It took three hours for a jury to unanimously convict him last week.
That same jury spent Tuesday morning and part of the afternoon deciding whether to sentence him to death.
'Hamburger out of human faces'
Richard Brown, Gregory's younger brother, addressed Pasco County Circuit Court Judge Mary Handsel following the jury's recommendation.
He detailed his family's upbringing in poverty and how he and his four siblings grew up in a single parent household.
"Our family has had to play through these murderous events in our heads over and over and over again," he said. "A nightmare because the defendant systematically took all of their humanity away one at a time."
He then described the crime, including how Matos used a hammer "to make hamburgers out of human faces."
"Animals feasted on our loved ones in 100-degree weather, allowing maggots to feast on their bodies until there was nothing left to identify them," he said. "It was as if these bodies were part of a war crime in Syria."
Words for Matos
Marie Brown Molder, the sister of Gregory and Richard Brown, detailed the impact the murders had on the victims' families, including Matos' son, Tristan.
"Adam, you claimed to love him, but you took his world," she said. "Megan, the mother of your child, this shows alone how little you cared about Tristan. I honestly believe this was in front of Tristan as she begged for both of their lives."
Molder said Tristan still relives what happened.
"He will thrive, he will be happy, and he will be totally loved without you," she said to Matos.
Amber Pyle, niece of Megan Brown, spoke directly to Matos about his son.
"We are trying to fill the void with the lost of his best friend, his mother, and his grandparents," she said. "You like to think that with his autism that he would forget what you have done, but he has not. He tells us daily what you have done. 'Daddy made a boo boo on her head and there was a lot of blood.' He makes my mother promise him that he will never leave or hurt him. He's terrified of you Adam."
Paula Rystrom, Nick Leonard's mother, also spoke to Matos.
"I hold his ashes in my hand like I did when he was a baby," she said before pointing her right index finger at him. "I cry constantly."
Rystrom paused during her remarks, turning to her right to stare at Matos.
"We all suffer daily to put our feet on the floor..and somehow manage to live through our own life sentences," she continued. "Our families are not part of a club we never wanted to be a part of, and can now never leave."
Following Leonard's death, Rystrom started a fall festival in her son's honor to bring awareness to domestic violence.
"My son's story is still not over, nor will it ever be," she said. "My wound is still open, fresh and deep. I still scream for my son. I spend countless hours trying to will him back to life. There is no greater pain than a mother losing a child."
"I'm sorry for the victims of the family," he said following the statements from the victims' families. "I know that's not enough but I want to make peace and hope they don't hold on to that hate in their hearts because a heart filled with hate is not free. I'm truly sorry."
Handsel then had her own words.
"This was the most selfish, self-centered, evil thing that I've ever heard," she said. "The fact that you did all this for your son was ridiculous. He was either in the room or within 65 feet...you're not sorry for what you did. Maybe one day. You weren't sorry that day, you weren't sorry when you took the stand and you're not sorry now."
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