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Jurors in court found Lewis Matthews, 43, guilty of four felonies after a three-day trial earlier in June.
"A despicable crime," said Andrew Warren, Hillsborough County attorney. "It’s heartbreaking to see a victim abused by someone who's supposed to care for her. We have zero tolerance for child predators. That’s why we aggressively prosecute these cases. And that's why he'll spend the rest of his life in prison."
The charges for Matthews, who is black, include a life sentence for sexual battery of a victim under the age of 12, including five additional years in prison for tampering with physical evidence and 25 years for each of two felony charges for lewd or lascivious molestation of a victim younger than 12.
A despicable crime. It’s heartbreaking to see a victim abused by someone who's supposed to care for her. We have zero tolerance for child predators. That’s why we aggressively prosecute these cases. And that's why he'll spend the rest of his life in prison.https://t.co/fhykDfAXPl
— Andrew Warren (@AndrewWarrenFL) June 28, 2021
The girl told investigators she fell asleep on the living room floor on April 13, 2019, prosecutors said. She said Matthews woke her up at around 3:30 a.m. and molested her.
The man stopped when the girl's mother heard a noise and came downstairs. Her mother was "stunned by what she discovered and dialed 911," prosecutors said.
Matthews took the girl and two other children living in the home and put them in the car, driving to the nearest gas station. It was there where he made the girl take off her clothes in the convenience store bathroom and doused her in bleach to destroy evidence. Investigators were able to recover samples of Matthews's DNA on the girl's body and the clothing he attempted to hide in the store's trash.
On the way out of the courtroom Monday, Matthews was caught on camera shaking his attorney's hand and chuckling after he was given his life sentence in prison. The victim's mother was reportedly not in attendance.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office but did not immediately receive a response.
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese