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Man pleads in slaying of university student, gets life term

October 17, 2018

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man charged in the slaying of a University of Pittsburgh student in her off-campus apartment a year ago was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Matthew Darby, 22, was sentenced hours after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder as part of an agreement in which Allegheny County prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Authorities said Darby used a claw hammer and two knives to kill 20-year-old Alina Sheykhet, his ex-girlfriend, last October. He fled and was captured in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Darby was sentenced after emotional victim impact statements from Sheykhet’s relatives and friends. Her best friend, Paige O’Neil, told the defendant he had done “the most selfish thing” because he “didn’t want anyone else to have her.”

“I just want you to know that even though you took my very best friend away from me, you will never kill her soul. Her memory is always here,” she said, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Prosecutors earlier announced plans to seek capital punishment, citing the defendant’s criminal history, other felonies alleged at the time of the murder and the fact the victim had a protection-from-abuse order against him stemming from an earlier break-in at the victim’s apartment. After she was killed, her parents criticized what they viewed as problems with the handling of protection-from-abuse orders, saying one temporary order was never served on Darby.

Defense attorney Thomas Farrell, said his client has expressed regret for his actions and is remorseful.

Darby also pleaded guilty to theft, flight to avoid apprehension and burglary in a homicide as well as criminal trespass. He still faces charges in an Indiana County rape case as well as a November altercation with jail guards.

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