Guilty plea in fatal stabbing of Bears fan in Florida

A Florida man faces a possible life sentence after pleading guilty to fatally stabbing a Lake County man who flew to Jacksonville for a Chicago Bears game last fall, authorities said.

Matthew R. Hinson, 28, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and faces sentencing May 28, according to court records. His sentence could range from 20 years to life, Florida prosecutors said.

Hinson was charged with killing William Pettry, a 42-year-old married father of three from Lake Villa, at an Irish-themed restaurant and bar packed with Bears fans early on Oct. 7, the day the team took on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Police said Hinson apparently grew angry after seeing Pettry talking to his wife.

A friend who was with Pettry in Florida and saw him lying wounded after the attack said he was glad Hinson pleaded guilty. Nick Viverito, of Chicago, said he was relieved that Pettry’s family and friends wouldn’t have to sit through a trial and relive the murder. Viverito hopes Hinson is sentenced to life and never paroled.

“My friend’s family is never going to get to see him again,” Viverito said.

Viverito has said that he and Pettry spoke cordially with Hinson, his wife and others before the attack. Pettry and Hinson were seen sitting together on a bench before Hinson drew a knife and slashed Pettry’s throat, police said. A waitress found Viverito in another area of the restaurant and he rushed over to find his friend dying, he said.

Hinson was arrested a few moments later as he pulled out of the restaurant parking lot in his truck, police said.

Seven months have passed, but Viverito hasn’t made sense of Pettry’s sudden death, he said.

“I think about it almost every day,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to make sense.”

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Yep, I took my dad to Lollapalooza

    I suppose I should be old enough to know by now that something doesn't become un-cool just because your parent is there.

  • Lollapalooza style portraits

    Lollapalooza style portraits

    Concertgoers pose at the three-day fest in Grant Park.

  • Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 2: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    And just like that, there’s only one day left of Lolla. Here’s what stood out to us from day 2. Best: The Tallest Man on Earth: Maybe it was just a right-mood, right-set situation, but boy this was the perfect mid-day act to take a breather, sit in the sun, and just chill and listen to and enjoy....

  • 50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    50 Cent at Parliament and Wyclef Jean at The Underground

    Shots in The Dark at Parliament Nightclub with 50 Cent and The Underground Nightclub with Wyclef Jean and Joey Fatone July 31st

  • Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 1: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    One day down! Here’s the best and worst we saw at Lolla on Friday, plus a few superlatives from day 1. Best: Anyone who knows me knows I was bound to pick Paul McCartney as my favorite act of the day. The Beatle came out and gave it his all with more than two hours of hits, tributes and jokes about...

  • Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    Lolla day 1: Let's just rename it Paul-apalooza

    What can you really say about Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, pop music pioneer, worldwide cultural icon, and all-around great guy, that hasn't already been said? I mean, seriously. With the Beatles changing music for the better, becoming a pop culture institution and being "more popular...