The ex-boyfriend of Alina Sheykhet, the 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh student found dead in her bedroom last October by her father, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Wednesday after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, an Allegheny County court official tells PEOPLE.
When asked by Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning why he was pleading guilty, Matthew Darby replied, “Because I am guilty,” the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports.
The sentencing brings Alina’s family closure one year after her father found her dead in a pool of her own blood at her home in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh on Oct. 8, 2017.
At a Wednesday press conference, Alina’s family said her memory lives on.
“[Alina’s] love for people has become even stronger. She is more alive than she has ever been,” said Alina’s mother Elly Sheykhet, noting that she still refers to her daughter in the present tense. “She is even more beautiful and powerful now. Alina is a beautiful angel. She brought so many people together by loving and supporting each other, she is guiding and helping us to make this world a better place. And as long as the Earth rotates on its axis, the world will be carrying her love and her beauty.”
Darby, of Greensburg, is believed to have killed his ex-girlfriend in the middle of the night after they dated on and off for two years. He has been described by Alina’s friends as possessive.
“You didn’t want anyone else to have her. From this, you did the most selfish thing to get what you truly wanted,” Paige O’Neil, Alina’s best friend, said in court. “I just want you to know that even though you took my very best friend away from me, you will never kill her soul. Her memory is always here.”
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Alina’s roommate, Rebecca Kubiczki, said in January that Alina often had to change the password to her social media accounts to stop Darby from accessing them. But Darby would force Alina to tell him her new passwords.
When her body was found, it had “multiple chop and stab wounds to the head and face,” according to the Post-Gazette.
Weeks before Alina’s death, Darby was arrested for breaking into her home while she and Kubiczki were there, Kubiczki said. When he wouldn’t leave, the women called the police, who arrested and charged Darby with criminal trespass, the Post-Gazette reports.
Darby also pleaded guilty to charges from that incident, the Post-Gazette reports.
Darby’s attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday. On Wednesday, he told the judge that his client felt remorse for murdering Alina, according to the Post-Gazette.
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