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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — A Decatur man who pleaded guilty to killing his girlfriend in 2019 received a life sentence during his hearing at the Morgan County Courthouse Wednesday morning.

Bernandino Matias confessed to killing his girlfriend of 3 years, 16-year-old Tania Rico in her apartment in 2019. Rico’s family said she would have graduated from Austin High School this year.

Matias entered a blind plea in November 2021.

According to court records, a detective with the Decatur Police Department at the time said Matias not only confessed to slitting his girlfriend’s throat, but he also said he has threatened to kill her family and himself.

Matias, who was 19 years old at the time, cut her throat at her home and then left the state, police said. They said Matias left around 4 a.m., went to his brother’s home and asked him to drive him to Knoxville, Tenn. During the drive, police said Matias told his brother he and Rico had been in a fight and that he knocked her down to the ground.

Knoxville police arrested Matias the day after Rico was found. He was brought back to Decatur and booked into the Morgan County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said Matias gave both a written and videotaped confession while still in Knoxville.

Anderson says they have evidence Rico was planning on ending the relationship. Matias told Decatur Police that Rico had “disrespected him and his family.”

Prior to the hearing, Anderson said they would request the maximum sentence which would be life in prison with the possibility of parole.