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Crime

Jury to continue deliberating on murder charges against Annapolis man in 2020 stabbing of 34-year-old

Jurors were excused for the weekend Friday evening after about five hours of deliberating murder charges against an Annapolis man accused of stabbing 34-year-old Deontrae Matthews.

Anne Arundel Circuit Court Judge Cathleen M. Vitale instructed the 12 jurors to avoid communicating about the case or following any media on the matter over the weekend before they return on Monday to decide whether Lester Lee Colbert Jr., 42, is guilty of first- or second-degree murder charges and a weapons offense for the July 6, 2020 stabbing in the Annapolis Walk neighborhood.

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Colbert was arrested in August 2020 over a month after the stabbing. Police had found Matthews, 34, at around 1 a.m. that morning with a puncture wound after responding to calls about an attack in the 1000 block of Baywind Drive. He died from blood loss after being taken to Anne Arundel County Medical Center and his death was ruled a homicide, police wrote in charging documents.

At the conclusion of the weeklong jury trial in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Friday, Assistant State’s Attorney Kelly Poma argued that Colbert had been near a group of people, including Matthews, about 1,000 yards away from Colbert’s Annapolitan Lane home that night. She said Colbert left to grab a wood-handled kitchen knife before returning and stabbing Matthews in the sternum. He then fled, she said.

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She argued that out of the people in the group, Colbert was the only one known to have an “issue” with Matthews. Colbert had initially told police he went to sleep at 10 p.m. the night before, but investigators countered his statement with cell phone records which showed that just before the 1 a.m. stabbing, he had called Matthews for less than a minute before Matthews called back.

Confronted with the cell phone records, Colbert told officers that Matthews was seeking drugs.

Defense attorney Kathleen Kirchner asserted there was no physical evidence tying Colbert to the stabbing.

She questioned the credibility of witnesses, who described different versions of what happened that night. Witnesses had given conflicting accounts of Matthews’ dying declaration that night: some quoted him as saying “Les, you stabbed me?” while others said they heard “What, you stabbed me?”

“Much of this case comes down to credibility,” Kirchner told jurors during closing statements, asking jurors to consider if witnesses “appeared to be truthful” when testifying throughout the week. She asked jurors to consider if they would make a life-changing decision based on similar trustworthiness.

“This may not be the most important decision you make, but for Mr. Colbert, it is,” she said.

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.”


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