LEBANON, Mo. – Brandi Mathews would have celebrated her 28th birthday today. Instead, the Mathews family memorializes her and relishes the justice they witnessed in a Laclede County Courtroom. Emotions ran high Monday afternoon when Kelly Robert Simino, 44, Mathews’ former boyfriend, was found guilty of second-degree murder after six days of jury trial.
“When I heard the verdict I felt such peace in my heart knowing that Brandi’s justice was served,” said Deanna Roberts, Mathews’ mother. “And now we know that he will not have the opportunity to harm anyone else for a very long time.”
Mathews was last seen by her family in September 2006. At the time of her disappearance, she was involved in a relationship with Simino. Several witnesses testified that the relationship between Simino and Mathews was volatile and violent.
“I personally witnessed Kelly screaming at her and threatening her numerous times,” Roberts said. “He would flare up at her and be so angry over what seemed to really be nothing. It was hard to watch her go through this and not be able to help her the way that I wanted to.”
Mathews’ partial remains were discovered in January 2009 under a bridge in a shallow creek about a mile north of Eldon. Simino was arrested on a probation violation before authorities publicly identified her remains and he has remained incarcerated since.
On January 6, 2011, the day Simino was scheduled to be released from the Missouri Department of Corrections, Miller County Prosecutor Matt Howard filed second-degree murder charges.
Shortly after Simino was charged with second-degree murder, he filed for a speedy trial under his Constitutional rights.
“I’m glad he did it that way,” Roberts said. “It just brought the case into court even quicker and gave our family the justice that we needed for Brandi.”
During the second phase of the trial Monday, the jury was asked to consider a sentencing recommendation for Simino that could range from not less than 10 years to not more than 30 years.
After only two hours of deliberation, the jury re-entered the courtroom with a unanimous recommendation of 20 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Simino is scheduled to appear in Laclede County Court at 9 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2012, for sentencing.