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Cape man sentenced to 10 years in prison

By Staff | Nov 29, 2011

A Cape Coral man accused of strangling his girlfriend to death in 2009 was given 10 years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Matthew Franklin Gullett, 29, of 4921 Coronado Parkway, Apt. 3, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation, after pleading guilty on Nov. 18 in a plea agreement with state prosecutors.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Shannon Sweet, 27.

As per the deal, Gullett also pleaded guilty to grand theft auto.

“Due to the facts and circumstances of this case, this plea agreement was a good resolution,” Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s Office, said Tuesday. “We had issues with witnesses due to their high-risk lifestyles, including drug usage. We also had witnesses who lied to police and lied during depositions.

“We did not want to risk the defendant not being incarcerated for this crime,” she said.

Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr handled the case.

Defense attorney David Brener represented Gullett.

“This case started out as a potential first-degree murder case, and it ended up getting filed as second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison,” he said.

“Through investigation, preparation and hard work, the defense was able to uncover a number of problems with the state’s case,” Brener said, explaining that some of the witnesses perjured themselves and there were issues with some of the forensic evidence.

“As a result, the state and the defense reached an agreement whereby Mr. Gullett would not be facing substantial prison time, and where the state was able to get a conviction and an admission of responsibility for the homicide, and still get some jail time,” 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.”