A Fort Worth man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing his mother, attempting to kill his cousin, and fleeing police, Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain said in a news release Tuesday.
Matthew Ray Russell was sentenced Tuesday in Weatherford to 50 years for the murder, 20 years for attempted murder, and 10 years for evading arrest with a vehicle. He will serve the sentences for all counts concurrently.
He was charged with killing Rebecca Russell on Sept. 28, 2021, after she arrived home late from Saginaw High School, where she worked as a math teacher.
He also attempted to murder his cousin, Darrell Caffey, while Caffey was trying to get to safety and call 911 to get help for his aunt, Rebecca, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation.
Russell then fled from his mother’s residence, between Weatherford and Azle, and led police on a high-speed chase that ended in Palo Pinto County, according to the release.
“Mr. Russell laid in wait for Rebecca to come home and shot her with a high-powered air rifle,” said Swain, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Al Charanza. “He then followed her inside her home to the kitchen, where she fell to the floor, and shot her twice more with an SKS (semi-automatic) rifle. At that same time, he shot through the walls of the house to try to kill Mr. Caffey.”
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Russell admitted to killing his mother and trying to kill his cousin, he told authorities in an interview. He also admitted to using methamphetamine and marijuana shortly before the murder and offered a variety of “delusional rationales” for the slaying, including a belief that his mother was trying to kill him and had previously killed other family members, the release states.
“Mr. Russell has a number of mental illness diagnoses, but his ingestion of methamphetamine, both habitually as well as on the day of the crime, was determined to be the real cause of his paranoia both that day and in the weeks leading up to it,” Swain said. “PCSO deputies had taken him to John Peter Smith hospital three times in the months leading up to the murder for what turned out to be methamphetamine induced psychosis. With his existing mental health problems, adding meth and marijuana was like throwing gas on a fire.”
Rebecca Russell “was the kind of person who would put any person before herself,” her daughter Lacey Salas told the court in a victim impact statement. “She was the definition of unconditional love. The amount of tears that have been shed, suffering of broken hearts, and the enormous hole that has been left from her loss to us all will never end.”
Rebecca’s brother Ronnie Caffey also gave a statement at the sentencing hearing saying, “Everyone who knew her loved her. She was a mother to me when I was young, as she was to so many of us throughout her life. She was even the person to enroll me in first grade. She was my rock and she was the glue that held our family together.”
Matthew Russell will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence, according to the release.
“He will be 62 years old at that point,” Charanza said. “We are hopeful that the parole board will consider public safety when they decide if they ever want Mr. Russell to be on the streets of our state again.”