This story contains graphic descriptions of domestic violence. — Ed.
After a four-day trial, Matt Seals was found guilty on eight counts of domestic violence-related charges, including strangulation.
The verdict came Thursday evening after a jury of 10 men and two women deliberated for nearly seven hours.
Seals faced nine counts of battery, aggravated assault, domestic battery, property destruction and strangulation. The 34-year-old Teton County man was accused of physically abusing two ex-girlfriends over the course of several years.
This week’s trial mainly focused on the first victim, who said that during their five-year relationship Seals gave her a black eye, a bloody nose, two scars on her face and a broken arm. On a large projector, the prosecution showed the jurors photos of the woman’s injuries.
They were also shown text messages from the defendant to the victim in 2016 after they had broken up.
“Yes, when I get wasted I have hurt you,” reads a text message the prosecution said Seals sent his ex-girlfriend in 2016, suggesting they get back together.
The victim’s testimony took nearly four hours Tuesday.
“It was the most physical pain I have ever felt,” she said of the time in 2013 when, she said, Seals broke her arm.
On Wednesday, Seals’ second alleged victim testified about the time she said he rammed his knee repeatedly between her legs after accusing her of being out “screwing someone.”
“He started kneeing me in the crotch,” she testified. “He was slamming it into my pelvic area.”
The woman said he split her labia in two places, and when she started to bleed he threw her into the shower and told her to clean herself up.
“I asked him to take me to the hospital,” she said. “On the way there he said we would say it was an ATV accident.”
Seals did not testify. His defense team only called one witness, Teton County inmate Albert Seehuber, who helped the team reiterate to the jury that this was a plot between the two ex-girlfriends to get back at Seals.
“Is it true that you think it’s funny to set up Mr. Seals?” public defender Elisabeth Trefonas asked the second victim.
“I have never said that,” she said from the witness stand.
Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan said in his closing arguments that the jury should think about the fact that two women are accusing Seals of very violent acts and that it shouldn’t matter when they came forward.
“They supported each other,” he said. “That’s what women do. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s natural. Of course they did. It’s being presented like it was some crime for them to support each other and help each other out.”
Seals was arrested in July after one of the victims showed up at the Teton County Courthouse to obtain a protection order. Her account described so much violence that police became involved.
Seals bonded out of Teton County Jail after his original arrest and was on the lam for several weeks before he was caught and arrested in Massachusetts and extradited to Wyoming. He has been incarcerated since October.
But the court allowed Seals to attend the trial in plain clothes rather than a jail jumpsuit. He wore a button-up shirt, tie and black-rimmed glasses each day.
Last week Seals was charged with a new felony after police said he and his mother, Lori Seals, tried to bribe one of his victims not to testify against him. In an affidavit filed May 28 in Teton County Circuit Court, police said Lori Seals called attorney Dick Mulligan on May 23 and offered to pay on behalf of her son.
Police were there when Mulligan returned her call. Lori Seals offered to pay the victim $416 per month for 10 years after prosecutors dropped the case and her son was released.
“She’d have to go to the prosecutor and say she doesn’t want to pursue it and request they dismiss it,” Lori Seals reportedly told Mulligan over the phone. “And if they do dismiss it then he would agree to the offer, the money offer.”
Police served a search warrant the next day at Lori Seals’ house and seized her cellphone, which revealed text messages confirming the bribe. Those allegations and charges were not raised at this week’s trial.
Matt Seals’ sentencing will happen at a later date.