Death Penalty Looms for Florida Man in High-Profile Lyft Driver Murder Case

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In a significant development, Okeechobee County prosecutors have disclosed their intention to seek the death penalty in the high-profile case of Mathew Flores, a Florida man standing trial for committing acts of extreme violence. The 36-year-old Flores has been indicted for first-degree murder and armed robbery, following the brutal slaying of 74-year old Gary Levin, a Lyft driver, on January 30. The prosecuting team has stressed on the cold, calculated, and premeditated nature of the crime, which happened in the course of Flores’ attempt to flee another felony – a robbery.

Flores, who is currently incarcerated and denied bond, is slated for arraignment in Okeechobee County next week. Court records pertaining to the Levin case do not reflect any legal representation for Flores at this stage.

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Accusations against Flores involve another alleged act of murder. The Florida man has been charged with the killing of Jose Carlos Martinez, 43, in Hardee County, on January 24. Despite pleading not guilty, investigators maintain that Flores, upon committing the mortal act, stole multiple vehicles before landing in Palm Beach County. There, he ingeniously had a friend schedule a ride for him through the Lyft application. Officials confirmed that this unsuspecting accomplice is exempt from legal actions, given their ignorance about Flores’ criminal status.

Gary Levin, unfortunately, accepted this deceitful ride request and picked Flores up. A tragic sequence of events followed soon after. Flores shot Levin in his 2022 Kia Stinger, discarded his body in proximity to Lake Okeechobee, as per revelations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Flores was eventually captured three days later in North Carolina; the police engaged him in an intense high-speed chase in Levin’s car. Levin’s remains were discovered five days post the crime when investigators retraced his final ride with Flores.

Flores, who was released from a Florida prison in 2017 after serving a year for auto theft, grand theft, and illegal possession of a firearm, now faces the grim possibility of a death sentence.

As of now, there are no comments available from Levin’s family, which includes a daughter-in-law who is an Associated Press reporter.

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