PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After more than a decade in prison, Matthew Caylor’s future is still in question. On Friday, Caylor had his second death penalty hearing.
In July 2008 Caylor raped and killed 13-year-old Melinda Hinson at the Value Lodge Hotel in Panama City. Her mother reported her missing and two days later, cleaning staff discovered her body in a vacant room.
Caylor later confessed to the murder while already behind bars for a home invasion.
On Friday he pled for his life.
“If you spare my life there’s so much good to come that I can do,” Caylor said.
Caylor was initially sentenced to death by an 8-4 jury decision. But since that ruling, Florida laws changed so death penalty sentences must now be unanimous.
After the change, Caylor waved his right to a jury and initially wanted to be sentenced to death. But in recent years he changed his mind after the victim’s mother died.
Caylor’s parents testified Friday that Caylor had a very difficult upbringing. They said they were addicted to meth for years throughout his childhood.
“We would just be up for seven days and didn’t have to sleep,” his mother Kimberly Caylor said. “The kids would just have to fend for themselves the best they could.”
His mother said sometimes the kids didn’t have anything to eat.
“We were sleeping and I woke up to them eating toothpaste because they were hungry,” Kimberly Caylor said.
His parents also testified Caylor’s father, Kerry, would beat him when he was younger. They said when Caylor was a month old his father would cut off his breath, knocking the infant out two or three times.
“I never really brought him up correctly,” Kerry Caylor said.
Matthew Caylor said he was sexually molested by a police officer who stayed with the family in Georgia. But prosecutors said his crime was too heinous to not get the death penalty.
“The death penalty is made people like this,” 14th Circuit State Attorney Larry Basford said. “It is made for the most serious, heinous, atrocious, cruel cases. And I would submit to you that this is one of those your honor.”
Caylor’s son said in the past few years, they have established a relationship. He hopes to continue getting to know his father better.
“I think my dad is a good man,” Caylor’s son Devin McCloud said. “He did something pretty bad and he shouldn’t have done that but I think that he’s a good man.”
Florida death penalty hearings only include testimony from the defense. No one testified on behalf of the victim. Judge Christopher Patterson will decide Caylor’s fate.