The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty in the murder case against a Santa Barbara man accused of driving his two young children to Mexico and killing them.
“The United States of America will not seek the death penalty for defendant Matthew Taylor Coleman,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman wrote in a brief court filing on Jan. 30.
He is being held in federal custody, and the next status hearing for the case is scheduled for Thursday in federal court.
Coleman left Santa Barbara with his children – Kaleo, 3, and Roxy, 10 months – on Aug. 7, 2021, in a camping van, and drove to the town of Rosarito in Mexico, according to the FBI.
His wife, Abby Coleman, reported him and the children missing later that day. She initially indicated she did not think the children were in danger, police said, but later agreed to track Coleman’s phone, which showed he was in Mexico.
Coleman was taken into custody by FBI agents at the border as he returned to the United States, and the children were not in the vehicle.
On the same day, Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of two young children that matched the description of Coleman’s children at a ranch near Rosarito.
Coleman allegedly confessed to FBI officials that he killed his two children with a spearfishing gun and “he believed his children were going to grow into monsters so he had to kill them,” according to an FBI affidavit.
The criminal case has seen multiple delays as prosecutors decided whether to pursue the death penalty, and due to the complexity of the case.
A late 2021 motion for delay cited a large amount of evidence, and stated that “the case is also unusually complex because of the nature of the prosecution, potential penalty, and potential mental-health defense.”
Coleman allegedly referenced several conspiracy theories while talking to investigators and stated that he “was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to his children,” according to the FBI affidavit.
Coleman and his wife founded the Lovewater Surf School in Santa Barbara.