Man pleads not guilty to 2013 murder of fiance

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A Duncanville, Texas, man accused of murder in the September 2013 death of a Hooks, Texas, woman pleaded not guilty to murder Monday at a hearing before a Bowie County district judge.

Toddrick Matthews, 40, stood before 5th District Judge Bill Miller without a lawyer when his hearing began Monday. After telling the judge he has lost his job and has no money in savings, Miller appointed the Bowie County Public Defenders Office to represent him.

Public Defender Sylvia Delgado entered a not guilty plea on Matthews’ behalf and Miller scheduled the case for trial Dec. 11 at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston. Matthews was arrested at his home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area the day after a Bowie County grand jury indicted him for murder in the Sept. 9, 2013, death of Sonjha Banks, 37.

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According to a press release issued the day of Matthews’ arrest May 25, Bowie County officials responding to a 2 a.m. call regarding a fire at a house on Hobbs Lane in Hooks found Banks’ lifeless body in the front yard. Matthews claimed he had just arrived home to find his house had been set on fire and Banks dead in the bathtub.

Investigators with the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers suspected foul play in the death noting Banks appeared to have been beaten and showed signs of trauma to her head and face. When interviewed during the initial stages of the investigation, Matthews allegedly claimed that a small safe containing $9,000 had been stolen from the house.

Delgado asked Miller about the possibility of reducing Matthews’ bail to an amount lower than the $500,000 at which it is currently set. Miller declined to reduce the bond but did say he would conduct a hearing if Delgado files a formal written motion.

Matthews is currently being held in the Bowie County jail. If convicted of murder he faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

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