Man Arrested in Luther Shootout Formally Charged With Murder, Assault

Thursday, May 9th 2013, 8:01 pm
By: News 9

The man arrested in that family shootout in Luther last week is now formally charged with murder and assault.

Matthew Strickland is accused of killing his mother and shooting his stepfather. The family is still trying to wrap their heads around what happened. Many of them had not seen Strickland in several years, but they tell News 9 Matthew's own mother was afraid of him and feared something like this would happen.

"It was heart wrenching," said Sara Phillips. "Honestly very heart wrenching to see my dad go through that."

This is our first look at Junior and Jill Sides. The couple had been married for more than 10 years when they were shot by Jill's son Matthew Strickland, last Thursday during a shootout.

5/3/2013 Related Story: Luther Man Accused Of Shooting Mother, Stepfather Has Long Criminal Past

"But I am grateful that he did call 911," said Phillips. "And that was the saving factor for my father."

Sarah Phillips says had Strickland not done that, her father probably would have died, since the couple lived in a remote part of Luther. And it would probably be hours before anyone would have been by the house.

"I believe it would have been too late," said Phillips.

She says both Junior and Jill had some scary run-ins with Matthew in the past, and that he was caught dressed all in black and spying on them in the woods in their house a couple of years ago.

Then he showed up last Thursday dressed in tactical gear and a bulletproof vest, armed with at least two weapons to confront his mother, as well as Sarah's father.

"I believe he was shot first," said Phillips. "My dad felt helpless that he couldn't help his wife."

Phillips says both Jill and Junior grabbed their guns too, but that it did little to prevent Strickland from firing several rounds at close range. She says their family had their share of issues with Strickland, but says he normally stayed away. And she says though Jill was her stepmother, the two were close.

5/2/2013 Related Story: Investigators Working to Determine Cause Of Deadly Luther Shootout

"Family meant everything to her, so that's why this is all so very confusing."

Sara says Jill was a great lady, a Godly lady, and that she will be dearly missed.

"It brings us peace to know that she is with the Lord, and one day we'll all get to see her again."

According to court papers, Strickland claimed he had not had contact with his parents for about two years, and that he had come to their home to collect some of his stuff. He claims his mother is the one who fired the first two shots, but the family says he is the one who ambushed them.

The family says they hope the District Attorney pursues the death penalty in this case.