The sentence will begin after Simino completes 11 years in prison on prior charges

A Laclede county judge sentenced Kelly R. Simino, of Eldon, to 20 years in prison for the 2006 murder of his then-girlfriend Brandi Mathews. The sentence, delivered on Friday afternoon, comes after a lengthy case that involved the Miller County Sheriff's Department, the Osage Beach Police Department, the Eldon Police Department and the Missouri Attorney General.

Simino was found guilty on Oct. 31, 2011, following a six-day jury trial in Laclede County. The key piece of evidence was the decapitated skull of Mathews, which was found under a bridge in rural Miller County in January 2009.

Simino was taken into custody and was scheduled to be released on parole in January 2011 when Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard formally charged Simino with second-degree murder, placing him back under custody of the Miller County Sheriff's Office.

"I spent a rather long evening with investigators being briefed on the case and we concluded it was unlikely that any more evidence or witnesses would be developed and that we couldn't risk allowing the suspect to be released for event a brief time," Howard said.

The case was originally slated to appear in Miller County, but was relocated to Laclede County after Simino requested a change of venue.

Circuit Judge Ken Hayden handed down the sentence, recommended by the jury, which Simino will serve immediately following the conclusion of a prior 11-year sentence involving illegal drugs, resisting arrest and driving without a license. Hayden turned down a motion for a new trial argued by Simino's defense attorney.

Miller County Sheriff Bill Abbott, who was on hand with Mathews' family at the sentencing, noted the coincidence that the defendant was going back to prison “exactly a year to the day from when we picked him up, and now he’s got his sentence to go back where he needs to be, and Brandi’s family can finally move on with their lives.”

The law requires a minimum of 85 percent completion of the sentence for violent crime before the possibility of parole. Simino will serve his sentence at the Potosi Correctional Center in Jefferson County.

*Editor's Note: A previous version of this story contained a spelling error. The error has since been corrected.