DOVER, Del. (AP) — The ailing widow of a man who killed his former daughter-in-law at a Delaware courthouse was sentenced Friday to life in prison on federal cyberstalking charges.
Lenore Matusiewicz, 69, learned her fate while lying in a bed at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
A federal judge scheduled the emergency sentencing after attorneys agreed it needed to take place in the hospital to ensure that Matusiewicz receives essential medical care.
Her son, David Matusiewicz, told The Associated Press in an email last week that he had been told his mother had only three to six months left to live. He didn't say why.
David, his mother, and his sister, Amy Gonzalez, were convicted of conspiracy and cyberstalking resulting in the 2013 death of David's ex-wife, Christine Belford. Prosecutors have said the cyberstalking convictions were unprecedented.
Prosecutors are also seeking life sentences for David Matusiewicz and Gonzalez, who will be sentenced Thursday.
"I have to note that in practical purposes, even the lightest sentence that I could impose on Mrs. Matusiewicz, given her current age and her current medical condition, would for all practical purposes amount to a life sentence," Judge Gerald McHugh said before sentencing her.
Lenore Matusiewicz was taken to the hospital on Jan. 31. According to the judge, doctors have said her medical needs cannot be met at the federal detention center in Philadelphia, and that she needs to be transferred to a medical facility administered by the Bureau of Prisons.
Matusiewicz's husband, Thomas Matusiewicz, fatally shot Belford and a friend in February 2013 as they arrived for a child support hearing. He then traded gunfire with police before killing himself.
The shooting followed a bitter yearslong custody battle over the three daughters Belford had with David Matusiewicz.
Lenore Matusiewicz told McHugh on Friday that her husband always told her she was too good, and that he had to find a way to bring her down or make her look bad.
"Obviously, he did," she said.
"I don't know why he did what he did," Matusiewicz added. "He hated the fact that Christine didn't love David, she only loved his money, and that she didn't love their children. ... As part of his decision to kill Christine, he never told any of us about that. He just did it, and that was the way he was. ... He just did what he did, and none of us knew what was coming."
But McHugh said he agreed with prosecutors that the nature and circumstance of the crimes committed by Matusiewicz were very serious, and that her family instilled "very real" fear in Belford and her daughters.
The judge also said his sentencing decision was heavily influenced by Matusiewicz's guilty plea in the 2007 kidnapping of her granddaughters. David Matusiewicz, a former optometrist, pleaded guilty to federal fraud and kidnapping charges after he and his mother took his daughters to Central America. Lenore Matusiewicz served more than a year in state prison for her role in the kidnapping. Matusiewicz family members have said they were trying to protect one of the daughters from being sexually abused by Belford, an assertion that has never been proved.
Asked by McHugh whether she had anything to add before she was sentenced, Matusiewicz replied that she was a Catholic, and that she would like to be blessed before she is "disposed of."
"That is beyond my jurisdiction," the judge responded, adding that he was confident that her family and Bureau of Prison officials would honor her request.