A Charlotte man was convicted of murder in the shooting death of his former Columbia girlfriend .
On Friday, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. McCrone ordered Ryan Patrick Matthias to life in prison sentence for the May 4, murder of Deborah Castellano as she arrived home at her apartment.
The judge also imposed a 20-year sentence, to be served consecutively, for the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.
During an eight-day trial held in May of this year, prosecutors presented evidence and testimony that Matthias and Castellano met online at a social network website and that Matthias moved from North Carolina to Castellano's upstate New York home. When the couple's seven-month relationship ended, Matthias helped Castellano move to Maryland for a job opportunity with Maryland Live Casino in Hanover before he moved back to North Carolina.
Howard County police received a 911 call from a person reporting that a woman appeared injured in a car parked outside of a Columbia apartment located in the 9600 block of Basket Ring Rd.
Assistant State's Attorney Maurice Frazier told the jury that Matthias "descended upon her, shot at her five times," with three of the five shots hitting Castellano. Five, .45-caliber shell casings were recovered at the crime scene but the shooter's gun was never recovered.
At the sentencing hearing, Castellano's 22-year-old daughter, Bianca, and 19-year old son Michael, stood, arm in arm as the older sibling read their victim impact statement. "What Ryan has taken from Michael and I can never be replaced; it's as simple as that," she stated. Staring directly at Matthias, Bianca Castellano told him, "She moved on and you should have, too."
Matthias' defense attorney told the court that her client had no prior criminal convictions. His brother conveyed a message, asking for leniency, from their ailing mother. Matthias addressed the court but never expressed any remorse nor apologized to Castellano's family. He spoke of reading and studying the spiritual best-selling book, "A Purpose Driven Life" as he told the judge, "He (God) knows I'm not a murderer."
Judge McCrone called the crime a "cruel, calculating, senseless murder." Before being led away by sheriff's deputies Matthias asked his defense attorney to place on the record that he would appeal his sentence.