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By JD LONG

CADIZ – This afternoon saw the end of a senseless crime come to an end as Matthew Dowdel, convicted earlier this morning of murdering Joseph Strother last year, received six sentences to run consecutively, which amounted to at least 30 years and up to life in prison.

Four sentences were handed down after four charges were merged into two for sentencing purposes.

Harrison County Common Pleas Court Judge, T. Shawn Hervey gave Dowdel only one slight break for leniency, the crime of grand theft of a motor vehicle (count four), which is a sentence of one year was imposed, where he stated that this crime was the least reprehensible of all that was committed.

Count six, murder (merged with felonious assault), for which Dowdel was convicted carried a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison leaving Hervey with no room to consider. But the other charges were all maximum sentences: Tampering with evidence and grand theft of a motor vehicle (count three), which was considered a lessor offense than aggravated robbery (count two) were  also merged.

Dowdel began sobbing as he sat down and watched the last of his family members seat themselves in the gallery. It was the first emotion shown of any kind by Dowdel, which the lack of emotion was not missed by three Strother family members who read their statements shortly before Hervey commenced sentencing.

Hervey admonished Dowdel for committing such an heinous crime within his own community and spoke of what a giving person Strother was and would have given Dowdel what he asked for instead of feeling the need to kill him and wrecking two families.

More details forthcoming in the newspaper edition of the News-Herald, which will run Saturday, March 21, and will include interviews with Tami Strother, Defense Attorney, Aaron Miller and Harrison County Prosecutor, Owen Beetham, as well as two jurors who spoke briefly after the verdict was delivered.