TAMPA, Fla. - Before taking a plea deal during a virtual court hearing, criminal defendant John Matthews complained his good name has been tarnished by the media.
"I do deserve for my name to be cleared in the media because I’m not a stalker and I never stalked anyone," he proclaimed.
But court records show he was accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend and later threatening to kill her.
Lead prosecutor Michael Schmiz reminded the court, "he sent numerous electronic messages, text messages saying that he would kill her and rape her daughter in front of her."
Matthews has decided to take an offer to plead guilty to charges of battery and making deadly threats in exchange for prosecutors dropping the aggravated stalking charge.
That will send him to prison for 20 months, followed by a 36-month probation.
Resolving the case hasn't come easy. Matthews has often been combative in court, especially during a virtual hearing last September where he accused his former public defender of working against him.
"I'm not going to let somebody railroad me. That isn’t gonna happen," said a defiant Matthews.
He later fired his public defender and then booted the original judge off his case.
Months later he blamed bad publicity for his troubles.
"It has prejudiced my case and I might not be able to get a fair and impartial trial or pick a non-bias jury because of this," complained Matthews.
Now Matthews is headed to prison and ordered to stay away from his ex-girlfriend once he's out, or face more legal trouble.
As part of the plea deal, Matthews will also undergo a psychological evaluation and take anger management classes.