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NC prosecutors dropping charges against Florida murder suspect to expedite extradition

Court TV logo Court TV 3/14/2023 Scripps News West Palm

By: Allen Cone

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WPTV) — Prosecutors in North Carolina have announced plans to drop charges against the man found in a car belonging to a Lyft driver from Palm Beach Gardens ultimately found dead to expedite his extradition to Florida.

Matthew Flores, 35, is a person of interest in the disappearance and death of Gary Levin, 74, although no charges have been filed.

Matthew Flores mugshot © Provided by Court TV Matthew Flores mugshot

This booking photo provided by Ted Bell, District Attorney for Rutherford and McDowell Counties in North Carolina, shows murder suspect Matthew Flores. (Ted Bell, DA)

Levin was reported missing on Jan. 30. His body was found in Okeechobee County five days later and two days after Flores was caught in North Carolina.

Flores has been charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 24 shooting death of Jose Carlos Martinez, 43, in Wauchula.

District Attorney Ted Bell in Rutherford County, posted on Facebook on Saturday that he is being held on a pending North Carolina parole violation and on extradition warrants out of Florida on the murder charges.

“The District Attorney’s Office has been in close communication with the State Attorney’s Offices in Florida involved in his matters, and it was ultimately decided that it was important to get Mr. Flores extradited to Florida as soon as possible to face the murder charges, which will also help bring closure to the family of the victims,” according to the post. The ‘dismissal to indict’ on Mr. Flores’s North Carolina charges of driving while impaired, felony fleeing to elude arrest, and possession of a stolen motor vehicle will allow the District Attorney’s Office to still pursue these North Carolina charges while letting the Florida murder charges take precedence and allow his return to Florida.”.

Bell posted the message after an inquiry from Fox Carolina.

A hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday.

When authorities arrested Flores in western North Carolina on Feb. 2, he was driving a 2022 red Kia Stinger that belonged to Levin.

Flores was apprehended after a three-county search that originated in Florida.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that they identified the victim but did not release a name, citing Marsy’s Law. FDLE said the death was a result of a homicide and the investigation remained active.

Gary Levin’s daughter posted on Facebook on Feb. 7 that her father was dead. Multiple sources tell WPTV the remains found in Okeechobee County are those of Levin.

This story was originally published March 12 by WPTV in West Palm Beach, an E.W. Scripps Company.


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