TAMPA, Fla. — Jurors in Tampa found a man guilty of molesting a 10-year-old girl and then dousing her with bleach to destroy evidence. The judge sentenced him to life in prison, according to reports.
Lewis Matthews, 43, learned his fate on Monday following a three-day trial earlier in June, Tampa Dispatch reported. He was the boyfriend of the little girl’s mother. No one spoke on his behalf during the sentencing hearing.
The victim told the court the horrible story of falling asleep on the living room floor in 2019. About 3:30 a.m., Matthews molested her. The crime was interrupted by the victim’s mother who heard a noise and came downstairs to investigate. She was “stunned by what she discovered,” prosecutors said, and immediately called police.
While the mother was on the phone with authorities, Matthews drove the victim to a nearby gas station, took her inside and forced her to remove clothing in the bathroom, and proceeded to douse her in bleach to destroy evidence.
Despite his effort, investigators from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were able to locate Matthews’ DNA on the bleach-stained underwear, as well as the victim’s body, and other clothing, Tampa Dispatch reported.
“It’s heartbreaking to sit in court and watch a victim, who has been sexually abused by someone who is supposed to be caring for her, testify on the stand,” 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement, according to Fox News. “That’s why I’m so proud of the work that our prosecutors do to hold these offenders accountable, stand up for the victims, and send these predators away for life.”
The prosecutor also described the reason for the sentence handed down to the defendant.
“Parents who are sexually abusing kids in their custody — it makes your blood boil,” Warren said. “That’s why we’re aggressively prosecuting cases like these. And that’s why these people deserve to spend the rest of their lives in prison.”