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Nebraska Man Sentenced to Life in Conviction of Fiancée’s Murder and Complex Legal Proceedings

by Jessica

In a recent development, Kolton Barnes, a Nebraska man charged in the 2020 murder of his fiancée, Kayla Matulka, has been sentenced to life without parole, along with an additional 85-106 years for various charges. The sentencing took place on Monday, as per court documents obtained by

Barnes, 27, was found guilty in May of first-degree murder, use of a deadly weapon, two counts of negligent child abuse, evidence tampering, animal cruelty for killing his dog, and use of a deadly weapon for animal abuse. Saunders County District Judge Christina Marroquin delivered the sentence, emphasizing the violent and brutal nature of the crime.

During the trial, Barnes claimed he had killed Matulka in self-defense, stating that he discovered her wielding a knife after returning from a bar. He testified that he punched her three times, resulting in a struggle that led to her death.

Matulka’s 11-year-old son found her lifeless body in their Nebraska home on July 15, 2020, and authorities revealed she had been beaten, strangled, and stabbed 24 times. Barnes’ dog was also found stabbed to death at the scene.

The defense argued that Matulka, dealing with mental health and addiction issues, was “crazed” on the night of her death. They pointed to a toxicology report revealing the presence of various substances in her system during the autopsy. However, prosecutors countered that Barnes had forced his way into the home, as he had threatened via text before the murder, and killed Matulka after she attempted to leave him.

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Sandra Allen argued during the trial’s closing arguments that Barnes refused to accept Matulka’s desire to end the relationship. She outlined a pattern of violence, including beating, strangling, and stabbing, and highlighted Barnes’ attempts to cover up the crime by deleting threatening texts and sending messages to Matulka’s phone after her death.

The prosecution contended that the evidence presented during the trial did not align with a self-defense scenario. Despite the conviction and sentencing, Barnes maintained his innocence during the court proceedings. The intricacies of the case, involving substance abuse, mental health struggles, and a tumultuous relationship, have added layers of complexity to the tragic events leading to Matulka’s death.

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