A Pennsylvania man who shot and killed his cousin with an AR-15 rifle and then burned the body for six hours has been sentenced to 15-30 years in prison for abuse of a corpse and conspiracy.
According to a Law and Crime report on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 30-year-old Derek Louk pleaded guilty last month for his role in the gruesome death of his cousin, Tyler Matthai.
According to prosecutors, Louk admitted to fatally shooting Matthai on April 26, 2022, before conspiring with two others to dispose of the body.
After shooting Matthai twice with the rifle, Louk dragged the body across the yard and buried it under tires.
He then doused the corpse with kerosene and let it burn for six hours while he slept.
When Louk woke up the next morning, he shoveled dirt on top of the charred remains to conceal the evidence.
Two of Louk’s co-conspirators, Courtney S. Boden and Jordon Robertson, were also sentenced for their roles in covering up the murder.
Boden, who was Matthai’s estranged girlfriend, received 2-12 years in prison. Robertson pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse and was sentenced to 3-23 months.
According to court documents, Louk shot Matthai when he burst into Louk’s home and dragged Boden from the living room.
Louk told police that Matthai had been doing drugs and acting physically aggressive with Boden that night. When he refused to stop, Louk said he shot him.
Louk claimed that Matthai and Boden had an abusive relationship and that he had known Boden for about seven years.
His attorney argued that Louk acted out of a desire to protect Boden.
However, prosecutors maintained that “the defendant not only pulled the trigger, he then conspired to conceal his horrific crimes.”
At his sentencing hearing, Louk did express remorse for his actions, saying, “I apologize to both families for taking Tyler away from them.
I loved Tyler, he was a good man who unfortunately struggled with addiction.”
But the judge ultimately agreed with prosecutors that the brutal nature of the murder and elaborate cover-up warranted a lengthy prison sentence.
“The blatant disrespect for human life is reprehensible,” the judge said.
“Burning a body for hours and concealing the crime cannot be justified.”
While Louk’s guilty plea spared him a possible life sentence, the judge said the 15-30-year term was appropriate “to hold him accountable and protect the community.”
Louk will also receive credit for time served since his arrest last April.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General said that despite being cousins, Louk showed zero regard for Matthai’s life.
His attempts to destroy evidence and evade responsibility also had to be punished.
With Louk’s sentencing now complete, prosecutors hope the conclusion brings some closure for the victim’s grieving family members.
Though the severe sentence cannot undo the murder, they believe justice has ultimately been served.