The mother of Adam Matos, found guilty last week on four counts of first-degree murder, took the stand Monday during the start of sentencing and talked about his upbringing.
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The 32-year-old Matos was found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder last week after a week-plus long trial. A jury found him guilty of killing former girlfriend Megan Brown, her new boyfriend Nicholas Leonard, and Brown's parents, Greg and Margaret, in late August 2014 in Hudson.
Jury members were sent home Monday afternoon after the defense rested its case, and closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.
The penalty phase started with both sides making opening statements and calling witnesses.
Two prosecution witnesses were called. Among the witnesses for the defense was Rose Matos, Adam's mother.
In a quiet voice, Rose Matos described what she called her son's rough childhood growing up in Pennsylvania.
She said the family moved a lot and that Adam was bullied in school and even beaten sometimes. She added that her son also witnessed her being abused by a boyfriend and also attacked with a knife by her own father.
"I love my son no matter what," Rose Matos said on the stand. "I am hurt. Just like any parent would feel hurt.
"It’s hard. It’s hard. I can’t even explain to you, it’s hard. Because as a single parent I tried to teach the children there has to be another way than what you see on TV or what you see before your eyes."
Defense attorneys said they were not trying to make excuses for Matos but wanted the jury to know about his early-life experiences before debating whether to recommend the death penalty.
Matos, who was dressed in a suit during the trial, was shackled and in a prison jumpsuit on Monday. He stared straight ahead even during the most emotional of testimony.
In Florida, a unanimous decision is required by the jury to apply the death penalty.