Central Texas man pleads guilty to murder of teenage girlfriend
Matthew Stoddard, 23, of Copperas Cove, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday in state district court in Belton after pleading guilty to the 2016 murder of his teenage girlfriend, whose death he first claimed was a suicide.
Harker Heights who responded to what was initially dispatched as a medical call at around 12:30 a.m. on July 10, 2016, found Angelica Nicole Santiago, 18, dead of a gunshot wound in the apartment in the 1400 block of Hopi Trail that she shared with Stoddard, who was also there, police said.
Officers found Stoddard in the bathroom of the apartment and Santiago lying “in a large pool of blood on the bathroom floor” with a firearm a few feet away, an arrest warrant affidavit said.
Stoddard told officers he was in the bathroom with Santiago when “she grabbed the gun, put it to her head and shot herself,” the affidavit said.
A medical examiner’s report, however, found that Santiago suffered two gunshot wounds to the head and ruled the cause of death as homicide.
Stoddard was indicted on April 3 in Coryell County for sexual assault.
The charge stems from a Texas Rangers investigation that started in November 2017 after Copperas Cove police responded in September 2017 to a domestic dispute between Stoddard and his girlfriend, who authorities later "identified as a juvenile," an arrest warrant affidavit said.
Stoddard told investigators he thought she was in her early 20s.