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Defendant Steven Pankey takes the stand in Jonelle Matthews murder trial, denies culpability

Steven Pankey taking the stand in Jonelle Matthews murder trial
Posted at 10:15 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 00:35:17-04

DENVER — After speculation over whether or not he would testify in his murder trial for the death of Jonelle Matthews, Steven Pankey took the stand on Thursday.

He spoke for several hours, questioned by his defense attorney, trying to convince the jury he is now an honest man, even though he lied routinely in the past.

"The truth is, is that I made a lot of stuff up out of bitterness for things that happened to me," said Pankey about his past comments relating to the disappearance of Williams.

Pankey was pressed by his attorney about several alleged statements he made about Jonelle Matthews in letters and in conversations. He allegedly asked for immunity from law enforcement in exchange for information on the location of Williams's body. Pankey said the reason he asked for immunity was protection from other criminal prosecution for separate charges.

RELATED: Man indicted on murder, kidnapping charges in connection with 1984 murder of Jonelle Matthews

Matthews was last seen alive on Dec. 20, 1984. She was deemed missing for more than 30 years until her body was found in 2019 at an oil and gas site in Greeley.

The Greeley Police Department confirmed in September 2019 Pankey was a person of interest. A Weld County grand jury indicted Pankey in October 2020 on three murder charges including first-degree murder. Two other charges of violence were also added to his case.

The grand jury also included a list of 26 claims that led the jury to bring the charges. Those claims include statements Pankey made in church, internet searches he made about Williams and statements he made to law enforcement.

Pankey said any former statements about him knowing Williams were lies and that he never knew her.

"It was just me trying to be a big man be in the case. I had no knowledge," Pankey said.

Previously, Pankey's ex-wife took the stand in the trial saying he was obsessed with the trial and had her read newspapers to him several times a day in the weeks following her disappearance.

After the defense questioning, the trial concluded for the day.