Florida Man Gets Life in Prison for Stabbing Bears Fan

A 29-year-old Florida man has been sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing a visiting Chicago Bears fan at a bar before a football game in 2012.

Matthew Reid Hinson, a Navy veteran, pleaded guilty last May to killing William Pettry. Authorities say Hinson slashed 42-year-old Pettry's neck with a pocket knife. Police say Pettry and a friend were talking to Hinson's wife before the stabbing happened.

Hinson apologized to Pettry's family Friday, saying he drank too much and made a "terrible judgment call."

Defense attorneys argued he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from living on a submarine. An expert for the prosecution argued Hinson's primary issue was alcohol abuse.

The Florida Times-Union reports Pettry, a married father of three, was in town to watch the Bears play the jaguars.

Family described Pettry as an "outstanding" man who loved his children and his Chicago Bears.

It was for the latter that he traveled to Florida for a game against the Jaguars. And it was during a confrontation at Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub and Restaurant in the downtown area where Pettry was attacked.

"When he showed up, he found out that our victim and a friend were talking to his wife and another lady," Jacksonville police Lt. Rob Schoonover said of the accused attacker, 27-year-old Matthew Hinson.

Schoonover said Hinson and Pettry were sitting on a bench inside the bar when the altercation occurred. It's not clear whether the two were even arguing.

"At this point, we don't know what words were exchanged," he said. "Our witness said he just stood up, cut him and then basically walked out."

Witnesses told police Hinson put the bloody knife in his pocket then walked away. He was located by police a short time later. Pettry died at the scene.

Police said Hinson later admitted to the attack but didn't recall why he did it. They say Hinson told them he'd previously served in the military and, until now, didn't have a criminal record.

On her Facebook page, Pettry's widow has shared words of grief and a reminder to her followers.

"Im [sic] so mad, just don't understand why, very lost right now. Please hug the ones you love because you never know if tomorrow you will have that chance," she wrote.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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