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Manslaughter plea nets man 10 years

By Staff | Nov 19, 2011

A Cape Coral man accused of strangling his girlfriend to death in 2009 pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors.

Matthew Franklin Gullett, 29, of 4921 Coronado Parkway, Apt. 3, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Shannon Sweet, 27. As per the deal, he will receive 10 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Gullett also pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft auto.

His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 29.

Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr handled the case.

“Based on some credibility issues that may have arisen with some of the witnesses in this case – due to some of their lifestyle choices – this was a good resolution and will hopefully bring some closure to the victim’s family,” Doerr said Friday.

Defense attorney David Brener represented Gullett.

“I’m very pleased that we were able to get the offer that we did,” Brener said Friday. “It came after a lot of hard work, both preparing the case for trial and in the negotiation process itself, which occurred simultaneously.”

“Mr. Gullett, his family and my firm are all very pleased that although he has to go to prison, he won’t be serving a lengthy sentence and will be in his 30s when he gets out,” he said.

Prior to the plea agreement, Gullett was facing second-degree murder.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Brener noted that the evidence in the case “was not the most reliable.”

“Both the state and the defense believe that the result was in the respective parties best interest,” he said.

In March 2009, authorities discovered Sweet’s body in a shower stall in an apartment in the 4900 block of Coronado Parkway after a neighbor reported a strong odor. Sweet and Gullett had been sharing the adjoining apartment.

A belt and a pair of pants were wrapped around Sweet’s neck, and her body was covered up with air mattress, according to Cape police officials.

An arrest warrant was issued for Gullett, and he was later detained at an Ohio hotel. He attempted to escape capture and was injured by gunfire.

Gullett reportedly admitted to someone that he strangled Sweet during an argument because his girlfriend “just wouldn’t shut the (expletive) up.”