After conviction, jury to decide sentence in Smithfield murder case

dquizon@newsobserver.comOctober 30, 2012 

— A jury must decide whether to give the death penalty to a Smithfield man who was convicted last week of beating an elderly neighbor to death in 2010.

Matthew Salentine was convicted of killing 74-year-old Patricia Stevens, who was found dead in her home on Third Street on June 24, 2010.

According to prosecutors, Salentine, 37, broke into Stevens’ home to rob her. She caught Salentine, and when she resisted, he beat her to death, according to police reports.

Salentine took the woman’s jewelry, money, checks and credit cards, police said. Investigators caught him after learning that he had been trying to cash the checks in his name.

The sentencing phase of the trial began Friday. Jurors will hear testimony from the families of both Salentine and Stevens. Prosecutors say it probably won’t wrap up until next week.

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