DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — A Decatur man charged in the death of his 16-year-old girlfriend has changed his mind regarding his guilty plea one last time.

22-year-old Bernandino Matias pleaded guilty to murdering his girlfriend on December 6, 2021, in a “blind plea,” meaning he agreed to accept whatever sentence the judge imposed. Four months later, court documents show that a motion was filed to withdraw his guilty plea.

On Monday, the Decatur Daily says Matias dropped the challenge to his guilty plea. He told Judge Charles Elliott that he wasn’t being coerced, as he spoke through an interpreter and by advice from his lawyer, saying the decision was being made under “his own free will.”

Tania Rico, a student at Austin High School at the time, was found in the apartment where she lived with her mother in 2019. 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.

Man who pleaded guilty to girlfriend's murder wants to take plea back
Bernandino Matias (Morgan County Sheriff’s Office)

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.

According to an autopsy report, Rico died from a “sharp force injury” to her neck, causing asphyxiation. The report also showed the teen had cuts on her fingers and bruises on her face, chest and back.

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.

Guilty plea challenge dropped in Decatur teen slaying
(Bernandino Miguel Matias, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office)

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.”

Earlier this year and before challenging his guilty plea, Matias was sentenced to life in prison.