NEW PORT RICHEY — At a hearing to decide whether he should live or die, Adam Matos smiled at family members Monday.
He saw them sitting in a Pasco County courtroom as his sentencing for four murders began.
A bit later, a witness reminded jurors of the terror and devastation left in his wake, recalling victim Megan Brown predicting in a phone call, "He's going to come back and finish me off."
A jury unanimously convicted Matos on Friday of first degree murder in the 2014 deaths of his ex-girlfriend, her parents and her new boyfriend. Now, it will be up to that same jury to decide whether those murders warrant a death sentence or if Matos, 32, should instead be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
His mother and brother are among a list of additional witnesses Matos' defense team plans to call to the stand to discuss "mitigating factors" from Matos' life in hopes of convincing at least one juror to take the death penalty off the table.
"The evidence you hear is not an excuse. It will not be a justification. But the evidence you'll hear from witnesses today will be an explanation of the life and circumstances of the defendant Adam Matos," defense attorney Dean Livermore told the jury.
"It will be your decision when Adam Matos dies — if God decides or the government decides," Livermore said.
Matos stunned trial spectators Wednesday by confessing from the witness stand. His attorneys wanted to put him back on the stand Thursday, but Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Mary Handsel said the additional questions weren't relevant.
Before the jury heard from Matos' family, state prosecutors called Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Noel Palma to the stand to once again run through the injuries Matos inflicted to his four victims.
Matos was found guilty of shooting to death ex-girlfriend Megan Brown, 27, and her father, Greg Brown, 52, and of beating to death Megan Brown's boyfriend, Nick Leonard, 37, and her mother Margaret Brown, 52.
James Sigler, 63, was the second and last witness prosecutors questioned before resting their case. Sigler hired Megan Brown to work at his Fisherman's Shack bar in Hudson just months before her murder on August 28, 2014. Early that morning, Sigler a series of chilling text messages describing an argument she had with Matos.
"Jerry, some serious .... is going on. My son's dad tried to kill me with a knife and threatened to finish me off," Sigler told the court Monday.
"My son's dad came home last night and he put a knife to my throat and told me he was going to ... kill me," the text message said.
When Sigler called his employee to make sure she was alright, Megan Brown told him Matos had fled the Hudson home he shared with Megan, their 4-year-old son and her parents. Police were searching for Matos, she said, but she worried they wouldn't find him soon enough.
She sent Seigler another frantic message: "He's going to come back and finish me off."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates from the sentencing hearing.