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Toledo man found guilty of murder in 2011 cold case

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    Flanked by his attorneys Dmitry Tatarko, left, and Drew Griffith, right, Robert Mathis II, standing center, is sentenced by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding.

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    Robert Mathis II, left, sits with his attorney Drew Griffith, right, as he waits for the jury in his trial to return their verdict Thursday at Lucas County Common Pleas Courthouse in downtown Toledo. Mathis was convicted of aggravated murder and murder in the 2011 beating death his former girlfriend Jennifer Molnar. He was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Michael Goulding to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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    Robert Mathis II holds his handcuffs as he is sentenced.

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At the conclusion of a cold case that went unsolved for more than seven years, Jeff Molnar said the world is a better place now that his sister’s killer will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A jury unanimously found Robert Mathis II, 42, guilty Thursday of brutally beating Jennifer Molnar, 31, to death in June, 2011. He was convicted on two alternate counts of murder and immediately sentenced by Judge Michael Goulding to life in prison without parole.

“I’m very pleased with the sentence, very deserving,” Mr. Molnar said. “... I wouldn’t even classify him as a human being, that guy is really like a modern-day monster — dangerous. He belongs where he’s going.”

The jury began deliberating late Wednesday. 

At 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the jury was called into the courtroom, as they indicated they were not agreeing on a verdict. A jury requires 12 unanimous votes to convict or acquit a defendant. 

Judge Goulding encouraged the jury to continue deliberations, which they resumed after the brief instructions.

The jury of seven men and five women returned the guilty verdicts at 4:30 p.m. Thursday after deliberating for a total of nine hours. 

Assistant county prosecutor Michael Bahner said “a picture speaks a thousand words.” 

The jury saw photos of Ms. Molnar’s beaten body. She had extensive bruising and abrasions across her body, burn marks down her face, and significant internal injuries — including a lacerated spleen and kidney, along with a bruised pancreas, Dr. Maneesha Pandey, deputy Lucas County Coroner testified.

Mathis originally told investigators he found Ms. Molnar’s body on June 8, 2011, at his home on the 1500 block of Kedron Street. He said he had attempted to turn on a faucet, found there was no water pressure and went to check the hot water tank.

That’s when he found Ms. Molnar’s body. 

Mathis told investigators he did not see any of those external injuries at the time he dialed 911 — which he did about an hour after finding her body. 

“You literally tortured and beat the life out of Jennifer Molnar with a force comparable to a high speed car crash,” Judge Goulding said to Mathis, who hung his head. “You express no remorse for killing her.” 

Mathis denied the killing, and the defense argued a 2011 police investigation did not produce any charges against the man.

The judge described Mathis as a drug dealer, living off the taxpayer’s dime, who manipulated and controlled others. 

When Judge Goulding asked Mathis if he had any statement to make, Mathis paused and then replied, “No, sir.” 

Prosecutors said Mathis had a history of threats and violence against Ms. Molnar.

In 2009, Ms. Molnar escaped to a local bar after Mathis beat her with a broom stick. She was hospitalized in intensive care and Mathis was charged with the assault.

The charges were later dropped at Ms. Molnar’s request. 

He was charged with murder in January, 2017, after cold-case detectives re-examined the case and additional evidence. 

“I’m extremely thankful for the hard work by Detective [Jay] Gast’s unit, prosecutor [Michael] Bahner. They did an excellent job of opening this case back up and doing whatever it was they did,” Mr. Molnar said. 

Mathis’ attorney, Drew Griffith, said his client intends to appeal. 

Contact Allison Dunn at, 419-724-6506, or on Twitter @AllisonDBlade.

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