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Trevor Matthews on trial for second degree murder of Ronnie Southerland

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The trial of Trevor Matthews is underway in State District Court. Matthews is charged with second-degree murder in connection with a brutal stabbing in 2019.

The coroner says Ronnie Southerland was stabbed so many times, he was already dead when some of the wounds were delivered. He died in a field in Westlake.

Details surrounding the case are now unfolding before a jury.

The lead detective in the case testified that Matthews had lacerations on his hands, which is something the detective says they expect to see in excessive stabbing cases. According to testimony, Southerland was stabbed 78 times.

During a video statement to police, Matthews kept his arms and hands under his shirt. When asked by investigators about cuts on his hands and arms, Matthews told investigators they were from a car jack falling on him and from playing “knife roulette.”

Matthews later said cuts on his hands that prosecutors say were from inflicting so many stab wounds on Southerland were actually inflicted on him by a woman he had been egging on about something.

Prosecutors say the victim was unarmed and that the killing was not self-defense. Matthews’ defense attorney questioned whether he would have kept a knife used in a homicide in his possession.

Earlier, Calcasieu Coroner Dr. Terry Welke described the injuries to Southerland as “overkill,” in pathology terms, in that he was stabbed many more times than would have been necessary to kill him.

The jury also heard from a Texas Ranger who arrested Matthews in Houston where he worked.

Jurors heard from an expert with the Louisiana State Police Lab who discussed testing to determine if the tip of the knife found in Southerland’s head matched a knife found in Matthews’ truck. He testified testing was inconclusive.

Matthews did not confess during his video interview with police. He testified he had no reason to harm Southerland and did not argue, fight or stab him.

Matthews took the stand in his own defense at Friday afternoon.

Closing arguments finished Friday evening, and the jury began deliberations. The trial is expected to go into the night until there is a verdict.

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