Anne Arundel prosecutors drop murder charge, won’t try Annapolis man a third time for 2020 stabbing death

After more than two years since his arrest, Lester Lee Colbert Jr. was released from jail last week after prosecutors decided to drop a murder case alleging he stabbed Deontrae Matthews in 2020.

Colbert has been through two trials stemming from the homicide charges. The first trial in 2021 ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury. And last month, Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Cathleen M. Vitale declared another mistrial when jurors remained deadlocked after nearly two days of deliberating.


During the trials, prosecutors had argued Colbert was responsible for the death of Matthews, 34, who was found at about 1 a.m. on July 6, 2020, suffering from a stab wound in the area of Baywind Drive. Colbert, who lived nearby in the Annapolis Walk neighborhood, had called Matthews minutes prior to the stabbing. At the most recent trial in late November, Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Poma argued that Colbert had grabbed a kitchen knife from his home, and stabbed Matthews in the sternum, then fled.

Colbert was arrested by Annapolis Police on murder charges about a month after the stabbing.


At a vigil following the fatal stabbing, family members remembered Matthews as a lovable, gentle jokester who worked hard. Mayor Gavin Buckley said Matthews was in “the prime of his life” when he was killed.

Colbert’s defense attorney, Kathleen Kirchner, said she agreed with the state’s decision to drop the charges, stating that her client is innocent.

During her closing arguments at last month’s trial, Kirchner highlighted a lack of physical evidence linking Colbert to the homicide, and urged jurors to consider the credibility of witnesses, who provided differing accounts of what happened that night.

In a statement, State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said her office “twice sought justice” on behalf of Matthews.

“Those who witnessed this murder were either uncooperative or reluctant to testify which ultimately led to two hung juries,” she said.

Neither Colbert or his attorney were in court last Friday, when Assistant State’s Attorney David Russell told retired Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Pamela North the prosecutor’s office would no longer pursue the case. North ordered Colbert to be released from Jennifer Road Detention Center.