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Decatur man pleads guilty in murder of teenage girlfriend

“She was a beautiful young lady, had her whole life ahead of her and that’s the tragedy of all this,”
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:55 PM CST
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DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - A man who stabbed a 16-year-old to death in Decatur two years ago entered into a blind plea Monday. Bernandino Matias’ trial was supposed to begin Monday, but now his fate is in the hands of a Morgan County judge.

Entering into a blind plea means Matias admitted his guilt in the murder of 16-year-old Tania Rico but was not willing to accept the state’s offer in this case. This comes two years after the teenage victim was found dead in her apartment with stab wounds to the throat after she didn’t show up to classes at Austin High School.

“It didn’t take very long to develop Mr. Matias as a suspect in the case. He had fled to Knoxville, he had been transported to Knoxville by a relative,” said Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson.

Anderson says then 19-year-old Matias was caught by Knoxville police. Then, Decatur police made their way to Knoxville to interview Matias, where he gave a very detailed written and taped confession. Anderson says Matias and Rico had been dating for several years, and Matias was even living at Rico’s home for a period of time.

“We have evidence that the victim was going to end the relationship. We also, through talking to the defendant, Decatur PD talking to him at the time of his confession, he said that the victim had disrespected him and his family,” said Anderson.

Anderson says Rico’s family is devastated.

“They’ve lost a 16-year-old daughter. She was a beautiful young lady, had her whole life ahead of her and that’s the tragedy of all this,” said Anderson.

Anderson says they will request that Matias be sentenced life with the possibility of parole, the maximum sentence he can get in this case. Matias’ sentencing is set for Jan. 12.

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