Closing arguments in trial of Steve Pankey, man accused of murdering Jonelle Matthews

Local News

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Closing arguments took place Tuesday in the trial of Steve Pankey, the man charged in the cold case murder of 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews.

Matthews disappeared from her home in Greeley on Dec. 20, 1984. Her remains were found in July 2019 at a construction site several miles away from the home.

Pankey maintains his innocence, although he’s charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping with a weapon.

During closings, the state painted Pankey as a master manipulator while the defense argued he lives in a world of fantasy and paranoia but he’s not a murderer. 

“In Steve’s mind, Mr. Pankey’s mind, he lives in a world of conspiracy paranoia and low self-esteem,” said defense attorney Anthony Viorst.

“He’s not someone who has a mental health disorder, he is a master manipulator,” prosecuting attorney Robb Miller said. “This narcissist is saying the state won’t be able to solve Jonelle Matthews’ disappearance without his help.”

Viorst told the jury the way Pankey treated his wife could have compelled her to want to testify and put him in jail for this murder. Viorst argued that the only direct evidence in the case is what Pankey said on the stand himself and he told the jury he didn’t go to Matthew’s home or know her. 

“He said on the way up before he testified he was thinking to himself maybe I shouldn’t testify because I’d just be telling more lies, his words not mine,” said Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke. “If you think he got on the stand for two days and lied to you he’s absolutely guilty.”

You can watch the closing arguments in the trial below on FOX31 NOW.

The jury began deliberating around noon Tuesday. At 5 p.m. they were sent home for the day with plans to resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most Read

Top Stories