Murder suspect takes plea

Mataya Shaw, left, is seen during a February plea hearing in 35th Circuit Court in Corunna.

FLINT — Mataya Shaw, an Owosso woman who was sentenced to at least 9 1/2 to 15 years in prison for her role in an April 2018 kidnapping in Shiawassee County, has now agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in a related Genesee County case.

According to online court records, Shaw, 24, accepted an offer June 28, in which she will plead guilty in Genesee County to reduced charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance causing death.

As part of the agreement in the murder case, Shaw will be required to “provide truthful testimony as required by (the) prosecutor,” likely meaning she will testify against her two co-defendants.

In return for the plea deal, Shaw’s sentence will be capped at a mandatory minimum of 25 years, up to life in prison. Prosecutors agreed that there will be no sentence enhancement or consecutive sentencing.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on the murder and conspiracy charges in Genesee County at 9 a.m. Aug. 16.

Shaw, Frederick Clark, 29, and Christian Lover, 24, both of Owosso, all were charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Austin Culkins of Owosso.

Culkins, the three allegedly believed, was responsible for thefts of drugs and money from Shaw.

Culkins’ body was found April 21, 2018, when officers with the Metro Police Authority were called to the 9300 block of South Jennings Road in Mundy Township to check the welfare of a male in a field who appeared to be dead, police said at the time.

Officers found Culkins on the ground next to an older model GMC pickup with California license plates at the northwest corner of Jennings and Baldwin roads. Culkins previously had lived in California before moving to Owosso.

The Genesee County medical examiner determined Culkins died as a result of multiple stab wounds.

With assistance from the Owosso Public Safety Department, the Michigan State Police Fugitive Team and the Mid-Michigan Area Group Narcotics Enforcement Team, the three suspects were taken into custody in Owosso on a retail fraud charge and lodged at the Genesee County Jail two days after Culkins’ body was found.

Police said officers were called to a gas station on Fenton Road where an attendant reported the three suspects inside the convenience store “acting suspiciously.” The three were allowed to leave at the time, but the station later pressed charges.

The incident at the gas station provided officials information that linked them to the murder case.

Prosecutors say Shaw, Frederick Clark and Lover were acquaintances of Cody Clark, 25, of Owosso, who was also charged by prosecutors in the kidnapping and abuse case that took place in Owosso in early April 2018. In that case, police said, the suspects believed the kidnapping victim was the person who stole from them, but they were mistaken. They then turned their attention to Culkins.

According to online circuit court records, Cody Clark pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree home invasion and one count of unlawful imprisonment at a hearing June 10. In return for his plea, prosecutors dismissed one count of first-degree home invasion, one count of unlawful imprisonment and one count of conspiracy to commit unlawful imprisonment.

Additionally, one count of possession of meth, with which Clark was charged after bonding out of jail on the other charges, was dropped. Clark is lodged in the Shiawassee County Jail awaiting sentencing.

Shaw agreed to plead guilty to the charges in Shiawassee County at a hearing Feb. 5. As part of that agreement, Shaw was required to testify against Cody Clark.

Shaw has already been sentenced in that case. The other murder suspects did not face kidnapping charges.

Cody Clark’s next scheduled hearing in 35th Circuit Court is at 8:30 a.m. July 26 for a pre-sentencing conference.

Frederick Clark and Christian Lover are both scheduled for pre-trial hearings on the murder charges at 1:30 p.m. July 29 in Genesee County, and their jury trial is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 6.

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