Matthew Pellegrini: Mom Slams Short Sentence for Son's Killer, Says He "Destroyed Our Lives"

Thumbnail image for matt Pellegrini image.jpg
Courtesy of Tami Inkley
Matthew Pellegrini.
Kevin Beindorff, 22, will spend several years behind bars for shooting and killing 18-year-old Matthew Pellegrini -- but the victim's family members will be suffering the rest of their lives. So says Tami Inkley, Pellegrini's mother, who is lamenting the seven-year sentence handed down yesterday to Beindorff, a decision marking the end of a drawn-out case that got national attention due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding the shooting.

"Kevin destroyed our lives," Inkley tells Daily RFT after the sentencing. "We are left trying to pick up the pieces and we'll be doing that long after he gets out of prison. We'll pay for the rest of our lives."

After the February 21, 2012 shooting -- in which Beindorff shot Pellegrini, an acquaintance, point-blank in the head while sitting inside a car -- the suspect offered a very strange explanation to police: Pellegrini asked him to do it.

See also: Mom Wants Justice for Son After Accused Killer Says He "Asked to Be Shot"

Pellegrini's family has always maintained that this story is absurd and that Beindorff deserves to spend many years behind bars for taking out a revolver, pointing it right at the teen's face and pulling the trigger.

The defense has argued that it was an accident and throughout the process, Pellegrini's family and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office strongly disagreed on the best course of action.

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Courtesy of Tami Inkley
Tami Inkley and her son.

Despite the wishes of the victim's family, prosecutors orchestrated a plea deal with Beindorff's attorneys in which the suspect admitted to involuntary manslaughter and armed criminal action. In a surprise move and after emotional testimony from the family, a judge rejected that plea deal, which essentially sent the case on to a different judge, who has now accepted the same plea deal the family had opposed.

That gives Beindorff a seven-year sentence, though he will get credit for eighteen months of jail time he has already served and the probation and parole board will decide if he can get out sooner. There is a three-year minimum for armed criminal action.

"We had no choice but to stand by and let the prosecuting attorney do what they wanted to do," Inkley says. "They did not work for Matthew nor for his memory."

The case should have gone to trial, she says.

"I was willing to go before a jury of peers. I welcomed that and I wished it could've happened," says Inkley, who lives in Ballwin.

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Kevin Beindorff.

To prosecutors, Inkley says, "This was just another shooting victim in St. Louis. Let's just speed it up and get it through and be done with it."

Last night, Inkley attended a rally at St. Louis City Hall calling for stricter gun laws to raise awareness about the "absolute failure of our legal system," she says.

"I now want to be a strong advocate not just for gun control, but for victims," she says.

Of the sentencing, she adds, "This is absolutely not justice for Matthew."

matthew-pellegrini-family.jpg
Courtesy of Tami Inkley
Matthew Pellegrini at his graduation.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has at several times during this case issued statements expressing sympathy for Inkley and pointing out that it is very rare for prosecutors and victims' families to disagree on the correct path forward.

She issued this statement yesterday reiterating her condolences:

I again share my sincere sympathy for Ms. Inkley, Mr. Pelligrini and their families. I am so sorry their loss. We remain committed to ensuring that Matthew Pelligrini and his family receive justice.

This morning, the judge made a decision to accept our agreement after careful review of the details, the state's sentencing summary, and the statements from the Pelligrini family and defendant. While we understand the Pelligrini family would have preferred to go to trial, we believe this agreement is the just course of action given the evidence available and the applicable laws. The maximum punishment under the law for the lead charge of Involuntary Manslaughter First is seven years. The maximum punishment under the law for the charge of Armed Criminal Action is up to life, with a minimum of three years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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23 comments
rj67red
rj67red

I do not understand how someone can kill a person and get 7 years but get a couple DWI's or busted for meth distribution and get a stiffer sentence.  To me a life is more valuable that what they declared.  He should have to make some sort of restitution after the seven years with community service or something in Matt's Honor.  When someone is killed and can not speak any longer for themselves then the family should have the deciding factor not the prosecutor and defense attorney as to deals that will be made.  It is terrible that our tax dollars pay for decisions such as this.  What a travesty.!       Robin Pate


Chico Andy Mann
Chico Andy Mann

Sorry for your loss but you're not going to take away my right to defend myself because of your misfortune.

Shannon Marfell Doza
Shannon Marfell Doza

Thus story contains no facts pertaining to gun control. It is illegal to shoot someone. That crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All existing gun laws should be used to support the prosecution. Was the gun stolen? Possessed legally? Carried legally? You must enforce the current laws. Give those committing crimes with guns real reason for pause.

Blake Harris
Blake Harris

This is just about the perfect example of not enforcing existing laws. This definitely should have gone to trial. I expect to see a federal civil rights investigation into the prosecution. He'll be out in 3 years..

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

The worst person to talk to about widespread public policy issues is the mother of a victim. They are inherently emotional, irrational, and motivated by fear rather than reason. That said, I feel badly for what her family endured including the weak prosecution.

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

The Mother needs to Publicize the name of the Judge so these Judges can be voted out of office

Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

& a so called spy gets 30 years for hurting no one, just telling us the truth???

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

If we could still hang murderers they'd think twice.

Mark Swain
Mark Swain

The courts are one of the reasons for all the violence, Criminals know they will not have to pay much for their crimes.

Will Fitts
Will Fitts

You get 17 years for counterfeiting. I guess we know which is more important to the gov.

Nikki Olden Moungo
Nikki Olden Moungo

This will follow Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Judge Jack Garvey, & prosecution Melissa Gilliam for the rest of their professional life. We will ensure it. Wonder how they sleep at night????

dalediversity
dalediversity topcommenter

Do we know why Pellegrini asked Beindorff to kill him? 

Lanie Dattilo
Lanie Dattilo

Anyone who commits a murder in cold blood should at the least be imprisoned for life.

Timothy McGarity
Timothy McGarity

7 years??? For killing someone??? No wonder people aren't afraid of killing each other!!!!

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

Jennifer Joyce= worthless cunt. Thanks for nothing you stupid fucking twat
. Can someone please get rid of useless asshats like this in our justice system. Worthless lazy piece of shits like this is the main reason crime is rampant now, because the criminals know they will simply be given a deal by a piece of shit prosecutor and weak assed judges. Balls.

ThatsMyTattooo
ThatsMyTattooo

The way this case has been handled is so deplorable, and a perfect example of what is wrong with our court system today. The circuit attorney's office has an obligation to the victim, the defendant, to the law itself and to society at large to provide the burden of proof in each case presented. In this case, the "burden of proof" is the word of the defendant. I don't know about you, but that doesn't sit well with me. The defendant in this case gave three separate accounts of events from that night. THREE. How did their office decide which story to roll with & offer a soft plea on? Since there was no evidence to support what Beindorff stated, they just had to take a killers word for it. The victim has no voice here, and the only witness plead the 5th. Isn't that awfully convenient for Beindorff to say whatever he wants?

Yet, what's even more perplexing, is that the circuit attorneys office would even consider such a bogus excuse as a real defense (again, with no supporting evidence). Does this mean MO Circuit Courts will accept a "Kevorkian" defense based on the sole word of a killer? This seems a hardly logical way to conduct law, and surely will not serve to protect our citizens. I cry foul from start to finish.

Where are the irate folks who scream "blame the shooter, not the gun!"? Why are they not screaming for justice to be served? Unless they believe it's "okay" to shoot someone "accidentally but on purpose but by request" type of defense, and feel 7 years is a punishment befitting this crime.

Yeah, Beindorff claims it was a request, then claims it was an accident. He had a 5 round .38 with 4 rounds left when he shot and killed a boy at point blank range. Doesn't add up to a person of average intelligence, but Judge Garvey, Jennifer Joyce, & Melissa Gilliam bought it. What does that say about their intelligence, and their willingness to do their jobs & keep the public at large safe from the criminal element?

I knew Matthew Pellegrini. He did NOT ask to be shot, that's so beyond ridiculous that it makes this entire case a total farce. The circuit attorneys office has a bag of magic beans they're trying to sell everyone. Beware.

ThatsMyTattooo
ThatsMyTattooo

@Jesda Gulati Are you kidding me??? The victims family should ABSOLUTELY speak up for change! What utter nonsense!!

beckiebowlin
beckiebowlin

@Thee Lovingcup nothing that he was too drunk to remember. But he wasn't too drunk to help dispose of the shell casing's and to discuss throwing matt's body in the river.

ThatsMyTattooo
ThatsMyTattooo

@jaco1175 Couldn't agree more. This was so disgusting. They never provided ANY evidence, other than the defendants "story".... if you can call that "evidence".

Fly_on_Wall
Fly_on_Wall

A grand jury reviewed the case and recommended that a) charges should be brought against the defendant and 2) those charges should be involuntary manslaughter in the first degree.  No one on this board were privy to the testimony given to the grand jury - it was closed to the public.  The defendant received the maximum penalty for the charges levied against him.

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