TAMPA, Fla. - The deciding factor in the murder trial of Matthew Terry may have been the living evidence of his violent past.
Terry's ex-girlfriend, Michelle Rogers testified Tuesday about how he nearly killed her back in 2017 when they lived together in Michigan. She barely survived it. Kay Baker didn't.
In a pre-trial hearing, Rogers testified about her ordeal, which sent Terry to prison for 3 years, but the judge had to decide if the jury in his trial for the alleged murder of his most recent girlfriend would hear from Rogers.
It was a big win for the prosecution when the judge let Rogers speak in court. She told the jury everything.
In March 2017, Rogers and Terry were living together. On the 17th, everything changed.
Rogers said she and Terry had been drinking on the St. Patrick’s holiday. Hours later, Terry turned violent.
Without warning or provocation, she said Terry lunged at her and began attacking her.
"He was taking both of his hands and grabbing my head and slamming it into the floor, so every time he would do that, my vision would go black," she recalled.
Rogers said Terry then punched her face and body. She said the beating only stopped for a minute, while Terry left to get a knife.
"The next thing you know, Mr. Terry comes around behind me and stabs me in the neck," Rogers said through tears.
The Michigan mom thought she was going to die and never see her children again.
Bleeding and bruised, Rogers said she ran, but Terry followed her with the knife in hand.
"He stabbed me three times in the shoulder," she said.
She was somehow able to wrestle the knife away from Terry and tucked it under her body as she laid on her driveway.
Frightened neighbors saw the attack and called police. Rogers escaped with her life. Terry was sent to prison for three years.
But prosecutors say, five year later, Kay Baker wasn't able to stop her attacker.
On May 28, her lifeless body was discovered in a neighbor’s yard in Lithia.
Prosecutor Justin Diaz told the jury the elementary school math teacher was running for her life, just like Rogers.
"Kay Baker is lying face down on the ground in the yard of her neighbor. With every beat of her heart, her life is ending," he explained.
Diaz said her boyfriend, Matthew Terry stabbed her to death in a jealous rage and nearly decapitated her.
Before the attack, Terry and Baker were having drinks at a Riverview bar. Terry accused Baker of dancing with another man, but she denied it.
Late Tuesday morning, the prosecution wrapped up its case. The defense rested without calling any witnesses and Terry decided not to testify in his own defense.
Closing arguments concluded a few hours later, and one more hour after that, the jury returned its guilty verdict.
The same jury will now decide whether he should spend the rest of life in prison or get a death sentence. The penalty phase of the trial begins Wednesday.