Matthew Darby was arrested days after his ex-girlfriend was found dead in a pool of blood in her bedroom

By Harriet Sokmensuer
January 22, 2018 06:14 PM

The ex-boyfriend of Alina Sheykhet, the 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh student who was found dead in her bedroom in October, will be going to trial following an emotional preliminary hearing.

Matthew Darby appeared in court Friday, where it was determined he would go to trial on charges of homicide, burglary, theft, flight to avoid apprehension and possessing an instrument of a crime, PEOPLE confirms.

Darby is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in the middle of the night after they dated on and off for two years. Sheykhat’s family and friends attended the hearing, which included 10 witnesses called by prosecutors that painted a disturbing picture of the couple’s relationship and the night of Sheykhet’s death, according to CBS.

On Oct. 8, Sheykhet was discovered dead in a pool of her own blood by her father at her home in Oakland, Pennsylvania, after he broke down the door to her bedroom, according to the Tribune-Review. Her parents became concerned when she didn’t show up to meet them earlier that day for a breast cancer walk, according to the outlet.

“Her dad was screaming she had a hole in her head,” Rebecca Kubiczki, Sheykhet’s roommate, said on the stand Friday, according to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

Alina Sheykhet
| Credit: Facebook

Sheykhet’s body had “multiple chop and stab wounds to the head and face,” according to the Post-Gazette. Her death was ruled a homicide. Three days later, her boyfriend, Matthew Darby, was arrested in South Carolina.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Sheykhet’s roommate described Darby as allegedly controlling, the Post-Gazette reports.

According to Kubiczki, Sheykhet allegedly often had to change the password to her social media accounts to stop Darby from accessing them. But Darby would allegedly force Sheykhet to tell him her new passwords, Kubiczki recalled, and sometimes pretended to be her and block friends from her account.

“He was possessive. He wouldn’t let her do things,” Kubiczki told the court, the Post-Gazette reports.

Darby’s attorney, David Shrager, tells PEOPLE, “After hearing all of the state’s witnesses that day, I was struck by what they didn’t have. There is absolutely no eye-witness testimony nor forensic evidence directly tying my client to any crime and we look forward to our day in court when we will be able to tell our side of the story.”

Weeks before Sheykhet’s death, Darby was arrested for allegedly breaking into her home while she and Kubiczki were there, Kubiczki said. When he allegedly wouldn’t leave, the women called the police, who arrested and charged Darby with criminal trespass, the Post-Gazette reports. He was later released on bond and is scheduled to enter a plea in February, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Surveillance footage from the night of Sheykhet’s alleged murder place a man believed to be Darby near the crime scene, according to the newspaper.

Matthew Darby
| Credit: Pittsburg Police Dept.

An Uber driver also testified that shortly after 4 a.m., Darby asked him to drop him off at Oakland Place, where Sheykhet lived, before changing his mind and asking to be dropped off nearby.

Authorities believe they have the weapons used to kill Sheykhet — two larges knives and a claw hammer recovered from a nearby drain— but Darby’s attorney argued that investigators had no direct evidence tying his client to the crime.

Darby has not yet entered a plea.

• For more compelling true crime coverage, follow our Crime magazine on Flipboard.

The 21-year-old has a history of prior arrests for alleged violence against women, according to court documents. In February, in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, he was charged with rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and additional charges against a different ex-girlfriend.

He pleaded not guilty, Shrager tells PEOPLE.

Darby is also facing a rape charge in Allegheny County but has not entered a plea.

Days after his daughter’s death, Sheykhet’s father, Yan Sheykhet, described his daughter as a bright and vivacious girl who aspired to be a physical therapist.

“It was her dream,” he said. “And she worked so hard. She was the best person in the world.”

“I lost my beautiful princess,” he continued. “I don’t know what else to say.”