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Man Accused Of Murdering Pitt Student Pleads Guilty To First-Degree Murder, Sentenced To Life In Prison

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A man accused of murdering a University of Pittsburgh student in her Oakland home last year has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and been sentenced to life in prison.

Matthew Darby appeared in court Wednesday. He has been in the Allegheny County Jail since late last year.

KDKA's Ralph Iannotti Reports:


"We knew this day would be the last chance to say something to him before he goes to the place he belongs, and I feel that's the time, just to wish him, 'Go to hell,'" said Yan Sheykhet, the victim's father.

matthew darby
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"Evil," "weak" and "coward" were just some of the words used to describe Darby at his sentencing hearing. Twelve people gave victim impact statements, and Darby appeared emotionless through it all.

He chose not to say anything on his behalf or call any character witnesses before he received his sentence of life in prison without parole during the afternoon portion of the hearing.

Prosecutors took the death penalty off the table as part of the plea agreement, and the victim's family was okay with that.

On Oct. 8, 2017, Alina Sheykhet's parents found their 20-year-old daughter bludgeoned to death in her bedroom in her home on Cable Avenue in Oakland. Investigators also found surveillance video of Darby in the neighborhood the night of the murder.

One of Alina's housemates who spoke during the hearing said he can still hear the sound of the chilling screams from Alina's mother when she found her daughter dead.

KDKA has learned that the murder weapons Darby used, a clawhammer and two knives, were from Alina's own basement and kitchen, respectively.

Alina's friends and family all said what a sweet, kind and beautiful person she was.

(Photo Credit: Facebook)

What may have been the most powerful statements were Alina's own words, paraphrased by her mother, Elly Sheykhet, after Darby broke into Alina's home the first time.

She said Alina was so kind, she still wanted to help him.

"No matter what he had done she wanted to protect him, she wanted to help him and she said, 'Mom, he does not deserve to go to jail. He keeps making mistakes in life,' I'm just phrasing what she was telling me, 'but he's a good person, and I want to help him,'" said Elly Sheykhet.

Sheykhet Family Holds News Conference:

"He was very remorseful in that he was very, very upset for his actions and that he regretted his actions. He did not want to speak. He had a right to speak, he had a right not to speak, he chose not to," said Tom Farrell, Darby's attorney.

Darby was arrested in South Carolina last November after nearly a month on the run from police.

President Judge Jeffrey Manning said in part, "I have presided over many homicide sentencings in more than 30 years, and I can say unhesitatingly, that the taking of the life of Alina Sheykhet compares to none other in its sheer brutality."

Alina's parents are now working to get stronger legislation passed on protection from abuse orders, which their daughter sought against Darby before her death.


The bill, which is currently stalled in the legislature, would give judges power to put more restrictions on people who have PFAs taken out against them.

"That spot in my heart where the ugliness and hate was, I'm going to fill it with the love of my daughter, with the beauty of my daughter and it will help us to continue to go on in life," said Elly. "Me, personally, I want him to stay alive. I want him to have a long life and think about what he has done, and that's what my daughter wants for him, that's what she wants."

Darby was also accused of raping an underage girl from Elizabeth. He also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to two counts of simple assault as part of this plea agreement.

That victim also gave a very powerful statement, saying, "The incessant calls Darby made to her before he took Alina's life made her think it could have been me."

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