Little Rock woman sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder in 2018

A 43-year-old Little Rock woman who called the police to tell her she had killed a man was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Judgment papers filed Thursday show Kristi Diane Sims pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder for 40 years imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, negotiated by Deputy Attorney General Michael Wright and Attorney General Cheryl Barnard, the charge was lowered from first-degree murder. Sims, aka Christy Gardner, will be working for 10 years before she can apply for parole.

According to police reports, investigators were called to Baptist Health Medical Center – Little Rock in August 2018 to meet with a Behavioral Health Services patient who said she believed she killed a man, 63-year-old Keith Alan Mattis. Sims, who is paroled, was in the hospital overnight after a suicide attempt.

Within an hour, police determined Mathis’ last known address and arrived at his home on Kensington Drive. After detecting the smell of decomposition from the house, officers entered, where they found Mattis in bed, dead from stab wounds in the stomach.

A neighbor, 70-year-old Carl Smith, said he hadn’t seen Mattis for three or four days, but spotted Mattis’ car coming and going at once from the house, though Smith said he couldn’t tell who the driver was. A second neighbor, Herb Sotlar, 69, told investigators he had not seen Mattis for four or five days, saying that the last time he saw the man was leaving in his car with a woman Satlar had seen at home before.

Detectives took Sims to the police station, where they told her she was accused of murder, and she refused to answer questions. But two hours later, Sims called investigators to waive her rights and make a statement.

Sims told investigators that she and Mathis had been using drugs continuously for three days when Mathis became aggressive during oral sex, then became angry and violent when she refused to continue. Sims said that when she continued, Matisse began to strangle her, so she grabbed a knife that was near him and cut it, describing how she stabbed him in the stomach and throat while he was holding it and trying to take the knife away.

Sims said she wanted to call the police but her “disrupted mind” wanted her to finish getting high, and told police she was watching Mattis until he stopped breathing. She said she took Mattis’ TVs to sell for drug money, according to reports.

After her interview with the police, Sims directed investigators to Mattis’ wallet at 6400 Arch Street, the keys to his home in Hyndman Park and his cell phone at 8400 Block of Pine Oak Drive. Some of Mattis’ possessions also began to surface in the days following his murder. A MacBook was found from Matisse’s home at 2300 Park Street Block.

A silver 2008 Honda Accord for Mathis was discovered at the Shell plant at 8000 Geyer Springs Road. The driver of the car told the police that he had paid Sims, whom he had known for 16 years, to use the car, saying he knew nothing of the murder. One of the passengers in the car said all she knew was that he got the car from a woman named Kristi.

Court files show that Sims, a mother of six, was on parole on her conviction of cocaine smuggling when she murdered Mattis. She had pleaded guilty to the charge – of selling drugs to an undercover police officer in July 2007 – in April 2008 in exchange for four years’ probation.

Her probationary period was extended twice for violating her conditions, with the third violation for failing to inform a probation officer and to complete drug treatment, which resulted in a five-year prison sentence. Sims was approved for parole about seven months before the murder.

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