A former Navy sailor has been sentenced to 16 years to life in prison after being found guilty of killing his wife and hiding her body for two years.
Prosecutors say Matthew Sullivan stabbed his wife, Elizabeth, in October 2014, while the couple's two children were in the other room. Then, they say, he put her body in a small freezer which he kept in his home for two years, telling everyone that Elizabeth had abandoned the family.
Shortly before he moved out of town in October 2016, authorities say Matthew dumped Elizabeth's body into San Diego Bay, but her body was soon found.
According to the Los Angeles Times, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Jill Lindberg said during trial that Sullivan killed his wife because she was involved with another man and was planning to leave him. Lindberg also alleged that Elizabeth threatened to take their children along with more than $1,000 out of their joint bank account.
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Sullivan's has maintained his innocence. His attorney, Marcus DeBose, argued during trial that Elizabeth Sullivan had abused drugs, didn't always come home at night and sometimes slept in a nearby park. He also said that Matthew Sullivan had no criminal record and had served in the Navy for 8 years.
Last year, a San Diego Superior Court jury found him guilty of second-degree murder after deliberating for about a day and a half.
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During the Friday sentencing hearing, Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian III had harsh words as he handed down the sentence.
"The jury verdict and the evidence at trial made it clear that Matthew Sullivan brutally murdered his wife, methodically cleaned up the messy murder site, and then hid the body for years," Harutunian said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "He almost got away with it, but his final attempt to hide the body at the bottom of the bay failed."
Sullivan addressed the court during sentencing, according to the newspaper. He told the judge that some defense witnesses were unavailable to testify, which hurt his case.
"I firmly believe their testimony would have changed the verdict in this trial," he said.
After his comments, prosecutors said that Sullivan was not sorry for his crime.
"There is clearly no remorse on the defendant's part," Lindberg told the judge. "He thinks he could have gotten a different verdict."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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