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A Minnesota Man Claimed His Girlfriend Killed Herself. Now, He'll Spend Decades Behind Bars For Her Murder.

Minnesota Man Murdered Girlfriend After Claiming She Killed Herself
Source: Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office; UNSPLASH

Matthew Ecker sentenced to 30 years for killing his girlfriend in a 2022 shooting, officials said.

Apr. 9 2024, Published 12:02 p.m. ET

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A Minnesota man was sentenced for the murder of his girlfriend after he initially claimed she shot herself to death inside her apartment, officials said.

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According to a criminal complaint, around 2:50 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2022, Matthew Phillip Ecker, 46, phoned 911 to report his girlfriend, Alexandra L. Pennig, 32, killed herself, the Pioneer Press reported.

Ecker later claimed he attempted to perform CPR on his girlfriend, who he said was still breathing, and called 911 four minutes after the gun fired.

Inside the apartment, emergency responders found Pennig on her back in the bathroom suffering a fatal gunshot wound to the left side of her head. A handgun was on her chest and her left hand was on top of it.

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The complaint states the weapon “did not have any blood on its sides and possibly had blood on the tip of the muzzle — otherwise it was remarkably clean.”

Ecker explained he washed his hands before phoning for help so didn’t have blood on his hands, but officers noted there was no water in the sink or blood on his clothing, according to the complaint.

Police said Ecker, who is married with four children, claimed he and Pennig had been in a two-year open relationship after meeting at a medical clinic where they both worked in Fergus Falls.

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The day of the shooting, Ecker claimed Pennig asked him to come see her because another man she was seeing allegedly had been abusing her, police said in the complaint.

According to Ecker, he and the victim had been at a bar earlier in the day when they ran into the boyfriend and there was an altercation. Minutes after Ecker and Pennig returned to her home, Ecker claimed, Pennig allegedly grabbed a gun Ecker had in his backpack.

“Ecker said it was weird since AP is right-handed,” the complaint states.

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She then allegedly warned him to stay away from her, went into the bathroom and shot herself, Ecker said, according to the document.

The complaint states Ecker, who said he had a permit to carry a firearm, allegedly later admitted he never performed CPR on his girlfriend and placed the gun in her hand because he feared he would get in trouble for the shooting since it was his weapon.

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In February 2024, Ecker was convicted of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Pennig, authorities said.

On April 5, a judge sentenced Ecker to 30 years in prison for her killing, KMSP reported. Ecker will serve his 30-year sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud.

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