Matthew Wittrock was a fifteen year old from South Dakota when the teen killer would murder his father and attempted to murder his father’s girlfriend. According to court documents Matthew Wittrock would wait for his father to arrive home and would ambush the man shooting him multiple times. Matthew Wittrock would then attack his fathers girlfriend who would thankfully survive her injuries. Matthew Wittrock would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to thirty years in prison with ten being suspended for parole
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A Sioux Falls teen was sentenced Monday for killing his father and beating the man’s girlfriend afterward.
Matthew Wittrock was sentenced to 30 years with 10 years suspended for first-degree manslaughter by Judge Susan Sabers at the Minnehaha County Courthouse.
The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. on May 5, 2020, when Sioux Falls police officers responded to the 700 block of South Gordon Drive. Craig Ronald Wittrock, 42, was found dead, and a woman whose identity was not released at the time was injured.
The injured woman was revealed to be Teri Handel at Monday’s sentencing hearing. She was in a relationship with Craig Wittrock at the time of his death.
Matthew Wittrock was initially charged with two counts of murder and multiple counts of manslaughter and aggravated assault as well as kidnapping, according to indictment records obtained by the Argus Leader.
He had a change of plea hearing on Sept. 13, 2021, where all his charges were dropped after he pled guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter and one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
“Sorry I put you all through this, especially those who loved my father,” Matthew Wittrock said during the hearing.
The 17-year-old appeared in court nearly two years after he shot his father to death. That day, Wittrock armed himself and waited for his father and Handel to get home. He shot his father and then shot Handel when she tried to offer help, Sabers said.
Matthew Wittrock then beat Handel over the head with the gun, causing a bend in the firearm. He held her hostage for hours as Handel pleaded with him to get help for his father, Sabers said.
During that time, Matthew Wittrock worked on fixing his gun that had jammed.
Handel appeared in court and although she initially wasn’t going to speak, she did. She said she now suffers from PTSD induced by Matthew Wittrock’s attack and hasn’t been able to maintain a job since.
“I really miss Craig, but I think Matthew’s a good kid,” Handel said to end her statement.
Sabers addressed several concerns she had with Matthew Wittrock before handing out her sentence. She said Matthew Wittrock’s family have all written her, describing him as a “good kid.”
The issue as Sabers saw it was that there was no reason for the attack.
The 17-year-old was said to have been suffering from major depressive disorder, PTSD, attachment disorder and OCD, but the night of the incident there wasn’t a definitive trigger.
“The fact there was no defined trigger I do think makes you a danger to the community,” Sabers said.
Matthew Wittrock’s mother has been out of his life for nine years after she abandoned him, according to Sabers. After killing his dad, the then 15-year-old stole his father’s vehicle, loaded it with firearms and said he planned to go to New Mexico and look for his mother.
Many of Matthew Wittrock’s mental health issues stem from trauma and abuse endured by him while growing up with his mother and her ever-changing partners, Sabers said.
While addressing the court Monday, Matthew Wittrock said he’s grown a lot since being housed at the Juvenile Detention Center. One of his goals for the future was to contact his mother and establish a relationship with her.
That goal was questioned by Sabers, who said the woman didn’t’ deserve to have a relationship with Matthew Wittrock. She also said she found it strange he still wanted to have a relationship with her.
“That scares the shit out of me,” Sabers said. “I have to take that into account.”
Another thing Sabers said bothered her was Matthew Wittrock’s calmness during his addressing of the court.
The judge said the only tools at her disposal to deal with Matthew Wittrock were numbers thus leaving her with limited options.
In the end, she sentenced the 17-year-old to 30 years in prison with 10 years suspended. For the aggravated assault charge, he was given 15 years with all of them suspended to run concurrently with his manslaughter sentence.
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Matthew Wittrock is in the South Dakota Juvenile system
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Matthew Wittrock is not eligible for release until 2040