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Murderer sentenced in sex case

Urbana man gets three years added to life sentence.

A convicted murdered already serving a life sentence for killing and dismembering his girlfriend had an additional three years added to his sentence for having sex with a teenage girl.

Matthew Puccio, 27, pleaded guilty to a single count of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, a third-degree felony, earlier this week. As part of a plea agreement with the Champaign County prosecutor, a count of felony importuning was dropped.

During sentencing Wednesday, Puccio revealed details of his relationship with the 14-year-old victim, whom he had reportedly known for two years prior to the incident. The girl was a runaway from Texas, and Puccio said he believed she was being abused.

He drove to Texas in February and brought her back to stay with him at his West Light Street apartment in Urbana. He told Judge Nick Selvaggio some of the same individuals who assisted him in the murder of his girlfriend, Jessica Rae Sacco, came with him to pick up the teen. Sacco was murdered in the same apartment where the sexual encounter with the teen victim took place.

Puccio was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 42 years in August 2012 for stabbing and suffocating Sacco. He also dismembered her body and hid several parts in Kentucky. Four friends were convicted for helping him try to cover up the crime.

Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said Puccio had sex with the teen prior to Sacco’s murder. It’s possible Sacco was aware of the relationship, a point that troubles her mother, Susan Taynor.

“It brings up a lot of questions,” she said. “My daughter was under his spell, is what you could say. She had mental illness, and he kept her off her medicine.”

When the sexual relationship was discovered by the teen’s parent after his murder conviction, she reported it to authorities. Puccio said he admitted his role to police, stating in court he knew “it was wrong.” While his attorney, Kirk D. Ellis, said his client had expressed remorse to him in private, Puccio did not apologize prior to sentencing.

Puccio was sentenced to three years in prison— not the maximum— for having sex with the teen. The term will run consecutive to his murder conviction, meaning he won’t be eligible for parole for at least 45 years. He’ll also have to register as a Tier II sex offender.

Talebi said some questioned why the case should even be prosecuted given the fact that it was unlikely Puccio would ever get out of prison. He said the teen victim deserved justice, and Puccio deserved to be labeled as a sex offender.

“When this defendant someday comes up for parole, we want the parole board to know that not only is this a violent offender, a violent murderer, but he is also a sex offender,” he said.

Taynor said she hopes this is the last time she’ll discover another girl has become one of Puccio’s victims.

“(I’d tell him) I hope prison shows you the same mercy that you showed your victims,” she said through tears. “Because he shows no mercy, so I hope the prison shows him the same as he showed my daughter.”

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