Phillip Kenneth Matovich at his arraignment in Santa Barbara Superior Court
Paul Wellman

Phillip Matovich, arrested in May 2008 after a bizarre set of break-ins during which he removed all his clothing, was sentenced on Tuesday, February 3, to eight years in state prison after pleading no contest to the charges.

Matovich was in a good mood in court, smiling and laughing as he went through the plea bargain terms with his attorney Mark Owens. At one point he to turned to his stepfather and a friend in the gallery – the only spectators in court for the proceeding – and mouthed, “I feel bad. I love you.”

Matovich, who never went to trial, pled no contest to first degree residential burglary, criminal threats, and two counts of false imprisonment by violence. Prosecutor Greg Boller dismissed the remaining five counts against him. Matovich will serve at least half his term, and received 396 credited days for time served.

The crimes occurred on May 17, when police were called at about 6:30 a.m. to an apartment on Ladera Street, where the parents of a family were awakened by Matovich, who shouted at them while they were in bed. He removed all his clothes and threatened to kill the adults and children in the house. He then ran into the kitchen and tried to get a knife, but after a struggle with the victims, ran out of the house.

While police began to cordon off the block, Matovich snuck into another home through a window by removing a screen. He allegedly took a steak knife from the kitchen and woke up a couple sleeping in their room, telling them he was holding them hostage and would kill them if they didn’t cooperate.

An officer, while conducting a search, noticed a screen on the ground, and met the male victim, who indicated something was wrong inside the house. When the officer entered the house, Matovich had his arm around the female victim’s neck, but was unarmed. The officer shot the suspect with his taser, and the victim was able to get away and Matovich was arrested.

Police allege Matovich had used ecstasy, cocaine, and alcohol the night prior to the events. Because of this, the judge also is recommending to the Department of Corrections that Matovich receive drug abuse and mental health treatment. Owens said that he asked for that because his client has a history of substance abuse problems and because of the “bizarre nature of the acts.” Owens is confident he will receive that treatment.

Matovich was on probation for three separate, previous incidents: possession of methamphetamine, the fraudulent use of a credit card, and joyriding in a vehicle-all felonies. None of those previous crimes matter when it comes to California’s three strikes law, but two of these most recent charges do. If, when Matovich gets out of prison, he commits another felony under this law, he could face life behind bars.

This threat, Boller said, makes him hopeful that Matovich, who is 27 years old, will turn his life around.


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