A jury found Erick Hernandez-Mendez guilty Wednesday of stabbing his wife to death in their Raleigh apartment, a death that came days after he married her for legal immigration status.

The family of Christina Matos, 20 years old when she was found dead in the Hillborough Street apartment in 2021, bowed their heads and hugged.

Hernandez-Mendez, 23, repeatedly testified that their marriage was a “sham” designed to keep him in the country legally, and that he is gay. Friends testified that he had come with his mother from Mexico when very young, but he was not eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA status.

He maintained he did not kill his wife, but instead witnessed roommate Kailey Lynch-Firicano stab Matos in the neck, then agreed to conceal the death and help clean up afterward out of fear the roommate would harm his family.

Lynch-Firicano, meanwhile, was charged as an accessory to murder two years after Matos’ death, and she did not testify in Hernandez-Mendez’ trial.

Prosectors pointed to the defendants’ repeated lies to Raleigh police, to Matos’ family and to the federal government regarding his marriage. They also pointed out he owed considerable money from the $15,000 he agreed to pay for the marriage agreement, that Matos wanted nothing to do with him personally, and that he had conducted an Internet search asking “What happens if my US citizen wife dies?”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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