DE Federal Trial Team Honored for Landmark Cyberstalking Resulting in Death Prosecution
The trial team that successfully prosecuted the country’s first cyberstalking-resulting-in-death case has been awarded the Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team. That team is here in Delaware and received the honor for their work in United States v. Matusiewicz, et al, which was tried in US District Court for the District of Delaware. The Matusiewicz case was the first of its kind, but United States Attorney David Weiss says their commitment to the victims of online terror campaigns continues.
THE STORY: On the morning of February 11, 2013, the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware became a shooting gallery as Thomas Matusiewicz – the husband of Defendant Lenore and the father of Defendants David and Amy – shot and killed his former daughter-in-law, Christine Belford, and her friend, Laura “Beth” Mulford. Thomas also shot two Capitol Police officers, who were providing security at the courthouse, before taking his own life. This brutal criminal act touched off a lengthy investigation, which uncovered evidence of Defendants’ three-year stalking campaign designed to psychologically torture and intimidate Ms. Belford – the mother of David Matusiewicz’s three biological children. Among other things, Defendants publicly and falsely accused Ms. Belford of sexually molesting her own children and utilized third parties to keep her under constant surveillance. These actions led Ms. Belford and her family to live in a constant state of fear, and ultimately resulted in Ms. Belford’s death.
Following a five-week trial in the summer of 2015, where the government called approximately 70 witnesses and admitted over 700 trial exhibits, Defendants were convicted on all charges, including cyberstalking resulting in death. Each Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment, and on appeal the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld their convictions in a sweeping precedential opinion.
U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss commented, “Cyberstalking is a form of psychological terror that deeply impacts its victims, and the Matusiewicz cyberstalking prosecution was a watershed case of national importance. I am proud to offer congratulations to the entire trial team for winning the Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team. This award is among the most prestigious and competitive awards given by the U.S. Department of Justice, and is the only award that includes those who have left federal government service. The long-term commitment and personal partnerships required to successfully prosecute the Matusiewicz family represent the best of Delaware law enforcement. We truly value these relationships.