Florida to seek death penalty against man accused of murdering Lyft driver

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — (AP) — Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a Florida man accused of murdering a Lyft driver whose car he allegedly stole in an attempt to escape another killing.


Okeechobee County prosecutors recently filed a court notice saying they will seek a death sentence against Mathew Flores, who is charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery for the Jan. 30 slaying of 74-year-old Gary Levin.

They cited several aggravating circumstances, including that the killing happened while the suspect was fleeing another felony — a robbery — and that it was done in a “cold, calculated and premeditated manner.”

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Flores, 36, was indicted earlier this month for Levin’s shooting death. Flores, who is jailed without bond, is set to be arraigned next week in Okeechobee County. No attorney is listed for him in the Levin case in court records.

Flores has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting Jose Carlos Martinez, 43, on Jan. 24 in Hardee County in Florida.

Investigators say that after killing Martinez, Flores stole several cars to make his way to Palm Beach County, where he had a friend order him a ride using the Lyft phone app.

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Officials said that person is not facing charges, as they were unaware that Flores was wanted.

Levin accepted the Lyft request and picked Flores up.

Flores shot Levin inside his 2022 Kia Stinger and then dumped his body near Lake Okeechobee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. Three days later, Flores was arrested in North Carolina after police say he led them on a high-speed chase in Levin’s car.

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Investigators found Levin’s body five days after the slaying when they retraced his ride with Flores.

Flores was released from a Florida prison in 2017 after serving a year for auto theft, grand theft and illegal possession of a firearm.

Levin’s family declined to comment on the prosecutor’s decision. His daughter-in-law is an Associated Press reporter.

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