For almost five years, Shantel Fountain waited for authorities to make an arrest in the 2006 killing of her 2-year-old daughter, Malaysia Chante Matamoros.
During that time, Fountain said, she felt frustration, confusion, anger and sadness.
Those emotions didn’t go away May 11 when Fountain learned Malaysia’s father and stepmother — Cedric and Shelna Matamoros — were indicted on first-degree murder charges in Malaysia’s death.
The couple’s motive, according to East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III, was money.
The toddler was covered by five insurance policies totaling $185,000 at the time of her death, and Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were the beneficiaries, Moore said at the time of the couple’s indictment.
Two of the insurance policies totaling $110,000 were set to lapse Sept. 1, 2006, the day after Malaysia was attacked in her bedroom and died of asphyxiation, the district attorney has said.
“I just cried,” Fountain said about her reaction to Moore’s news. “I didn’t yell or scream like I thought I would, I just cried.”
Fountain said she always thought Malaysia’s death had something to do with a lawsuit she filed against Cedric Matamoros for custody and child support. The former couple was due in court five days after their daughter’s death.
“Knowing it was because of insurance policies made it worse,” Fountain said. “Everything I had in my brain (about what happened to Malaysia) was wrong.”
Cedric Matamoros, 31, has claimed someone broke into his apartment at the Brandywine Condominiums on Darryl Drive the night of Aug. 30, 2006, when his daughter was attacked in her bedroom. He said he fired a gun at the intruder.
Cedric Matamoros’ wife, Shelna Matamoros, was at the apartment the night Malaysia died. She has not made a public statement about what happened in the apartment that night.
Prior to being arrested in Malaysia’s death, Cedric and Shelna Matamoros were convicted in a string of arsons and frauds.
Shelna Matamoros, 35, pleaded guilty in March 2010 to simple arson, insurance fraud and other charges. She was released from prison a year later.
Cedric Matamoros pleaded no contest in September to simple arson, insurance fraud and workers’ compensation fraud. He was released from prison the day before he was arrested in Malaysia’s slaying.
Moore has said he intends to seek the death penalty if the couple does not plead guilty to second-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison.
The district attorney added that the Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana State Police and Office of Child Services have helped prosecutors put together an “extremely strong” circumstantial case.
Fountain said life in prison would be a more punishing sentence than death.
“If you get life, you have to think about why you are there,” she said. “You have to think about it all day every day.”
Regardless of what happens in court, Fountain said, justice won’t be served until the person who killed her daughter owns up to it.
“I want to hear that,” she said. “I want to hear remorse.”
Kimberly Vetter covers crime for The Advocate. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.