Man on death row begs for life in prison at Spencer hearing

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 9:20 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A Georgia man once sentenced to death for killing a 13-year-old girl in Panama City was given what’s called a Spencer hearing Friday.

Matthew Caylor, 47, is asking Circuit Judge Christopher Patterson to consider life in prison. This after his original death sentence was thrown out due to a 2016 Florida Supreme Court law that says a death penalty verdict needs to be unanimous. The jury in 2009 originally voted 8 to 4 in favor of the death penalty.

Caylor, a registered sex offender, raped and strangled Melinda Hinson at the Valu-Lodge Motel in Panama City more than 14 years ago. A maid found her body underneath the bed two days later.

The Florida Supreme Court ruling means Caylor will now be resentenced. Friday’s hearing allowed the judge to listen to testimony from both sides before Caylor is sentenced again.

Judge Patterson heard testimony from both of Caylor’s parents who admitted to using drugs and abusing him as a child but are ultimately standing in his corner now.

His mom, Kimberly Caylor, went first.

“Well, there was this one time, we were sleeping and I woke up to them eating toothpaste because they were hungry,” Kimberly said. “But now he’s always trying to make me feel better. And I know he can do that with others.”

His father, Kerry Caylor, followed afterward.

”Do you feel responsible for the bad childhood of Matthew that you described,” the defense asked Kerry?

“Yes sir,” Kerry replied.

“And what would you like the judge to do,” the defense asked.

“If you could spare his life, he has worth,” Kerry replied.

Multiple mental health experts also testified before a judge, as well as one of Caylor’s sons. Caylor, himself, also took the stand to make a final plea to spare his life.

“I understand that I don’t have a right to be with my kids. I know this. I feel that they have a right to have me if they so choose to. Right? Look, I’m never getting out. And I’m okay with that. Because I can take that opportunity and change and help people to change their lives. And that’s what a life sentence means to me,” Caylor said.

The judge will be reviewing testimonies and evidence before deciding whether Caylor will get life in prison or capital punishment. No date has been set yet.

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