The conviction of Kelly Simino for the 2006 murder of his one-time girlfriend Brandi Mathews has been upheld by the Missouri Court of Appeals in a ruling April 24 following an appeal.
Simino, 45, of Eldon, was convicted in the killing of the 23-year-old exotic dancer after a six-day jury trial in Laclede County in Oct. 2011.
The 22-page appellate opinion affirming the conviction rejected all of Simino's contentions that he had been prejudiced by denial of a speedy trial, that the trial judge gave improper instructions to the jury and that court records from a Pettis County adult abuse case were improperly shown to the jury.
Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard noted that considering the length of the investigation and complexity of the trial, the result of the appeal was "rather anticlimactic." Howard said the decision was expected based on the way Judge Ken Hayden handled the case, which was "really exceptional."
Mathews, who disappeared in fall 2006, became the subject of a missing persons investigation beginning in March 2008. In early Jan. 2009, a skull later identified as Mathews was discovered in a creek bed under a bridge near Eldon. The following day Simino was arrested upon unrelated charges brought by Howard. In 2011, Howard filed and prosecuted the murder case against Simino after taking responsibility for the case back over from the Missouri Attorney General's Office which had agreed to review the investigation in 2009. Since his 2009 arrest, Simino has been held in jail and prison ending with his sentencing for the murder. Judge Hayden added the 20-year term recommended by the jury to be served consecutively after other Miller County sentences for illegal drugs, resisting arrest and driving without a license for a total of 31 years.
Other than the skull, which showed impact marks where victim's body had been decapitated, no other evidence was found as to a murder weapon, or a specific date, place or the cause of death that was inflicted upon Mathews. No other remains of Brandi Mathews have ever been located.
Local law enforcement officers had been looking for Mathews since early 2008, and based upon a tip received later that summer operated under the assumption that she had likely been murdered by Simino. Records later obtained from a local motel proved Simino had lied to police when questioned about when and where he had last been with Mathews. Howard stated that the motel record proved to be a "linchpin" that held together what was an almost purely circumstantial case.
"I think it came down to this – a few months before Brandi disappeared, Kelly Simino stiffed a small town motel proprietor for $35 and five years later we were able to get those records to prove he lied to police," Howard said. "Without that bit of evidence the jury might very well not have been able to return a conviction."
Page 2 of 2 - To read the appellate opinon go to: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=60857