Trial Begins for 2017 Case of Husband Kidnapping Wife

August 27, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

Five years after Trevor Summers was accused of kidnapping and attempting to kill his wife, the trial is finally set to begin. In the time he has been in jail Summers has lost three different attorneys, requested to represent himself, and finally decided to seek out legal assistance right before the trial started Monday.

Summers initially faced charges for conspiracy and fraud in Philadelphia, but things went south after his ex-wife Alisa Mathewson filed for a divorce. The incoming divorce proceedings led to Summers forming an elaborate plan to kidnap and kill his ex-wife. Summers is now facing a litany of charges, including kidnapping and attempted murder.

We will cover the details of the case, the ex-wife’s testimony, and kidnapping charges in Florida. 

What was the Incident?

On March 11th, 2017, Trevor Summers, 45, allegedly kidnapped his estranged wife and held her captive for multiple days. Summers had previously pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy in a Philadelphia federal court. Summers had allegedly defrauded investors out of $345,000 for a patent on straws.

After the guilty plea, his wife filed for divorce from her husband, now making her Alisa Mathewson. On October 31st, Mathewson requested that the Hillsborough County judge granted her a domestic violence injunction, but it was dismissed shortly after. Summers’ ex-wife once again filed for a protective order on February 21st.

Mathewson claimed that her ex-husband pulled a knife on her when she met up with him to discuss the divorce settlement. Summers also threatened to bind Mathewson with duct tape and rope to hold her against her will. Mathewson called the police and managed to leave the house and wait for authorities at a nearby gas station. There was never an arrest made due to the couple’s conflicting statements about the incident.

The kidnapping began on March 11th, when Summers texted the couple’s 14-year-old daughter and instructed her to take the rest of the four children and go to his house. He also told her to leave one of the windows open to his former home.

Summers used the ajar window to sneak into Mathewson’s home. Summers tied his ex-wife to the bed and tried to convince her to run away with him to a remote island with the millions of dollars he claimed to have kept in an offshore account. Mathewson complied with her ex-husband to keep him calm, and he took her into their SUV and drove towards a marina where he claimed a boat would take them out to sea.

Summers stopped at a local Walgreens in Hillsborough County, and Mathewson was able to get out of the vehicle and attempted to run away. Summers caught her and threw he back into the vehicle, but not before one of the employees caught glimpse of Mathewson tied up and called the police with the SUV’s license plate number.

Police finally found the couple two days later at a resort in Ruskin. Summers had cut Mathewson’s wrist and attempted to slice his own neck before the authorities arrested him. Summers was taken to the hospital and then to jail, and Mathewson was taken into protective custody.

After the arrest, the police searched Summers’ car and found a handwritten confession, in which he admitted to cutting Mathewson’s wrists when she attempted to escape. There was an additional letter written for their five children that read, “So we have ended it for your sake. We wish you the best in everything you do and will be watching you from heaven.”

Summers’ Final Decision for Legal Help

In the several years that Summers has waited for trial, his three appointed attorneys asked withdraw from the case due to their disagreements with him. Summers decided that he would best represent himself in the trial.

However, after realizing he was unable to postpone the trial from the judge, he finally changed his mind and decided to allow an attorney to take over the case.Summers told Judge Sabella that he had several issues with the case including accessing evidence while in jail, being unable to secure expert witnesses, and requested another delay in the trial.

“What went on in five years that there was no understanding of what evidence the state had?” Judge Sabella asked Summers. The judge went on to say that all of the disadvantages Summers mentioned were a result of going without the help of an attorney. Summers decided to let Anthony Marchese, his standby attorney, take over the case.

“I think that’s a very wise decision,” Judge Sabella responded to Summers’ choice.

Ex-wife’s Testimony

Alisa Mathewson, Summers’ ex-wife, took the stand on August 23rd, 2022 to give her testimony on the kidnapping. Mathewson gave a detailed explanation about how Summers tied her up from the ankles and wrists using scarfs. Summers put a sock in her mouth, and wrapped another scarf around her head and mouth. She claimed he took a nylon rope and “cocoon-wrapped” her entire body, then proceeded to use Christmas lights to tie her against the bed frame.

Summers then sexually assaulted his ex-wife. Defense attorney Marchese suggested that it was not sexual assault because there was a difference between “consent” and a victim’s “acquiescence.” However, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Johnson said the sexual intercourse happened while Summers was holding Mathewson captive in her home, making the attack a sexual assault.

“It’s anything but consensual,” Johnson argued.

After the sexual assault, Summers allegedly attempted to kill Mathewson by putting all his weight on top of her and smothering her with the pillow. Mathewson fell unconscious but survived. When she came to Summers informed her they were going to the charter boat he prepared for their escape.

Walgreens employee Randall Crosby testified. Crosby saw saw Mathewson running and screaming for help while in the parking lot. There was also CCTV footage from the Walgreens around 9 pm that shows Summers entering the store and almost immediately exiting.

Mathewson said the two laid low for two days, but then on the 13th, he got angry with her once again for questioning his actions and tried to strangle her with a rope. It was not long after this when Summers noticed an undercover police car. The officers confronted Summers as he attempted to cut his own neck with a razor blade he had with him.

The trial testimonies are set to continue throughout the week.

Kidnapping in Florida

Florida Statute Section 787.01 defines kidnapping as when a person forcibly, or by threat confines, abducts, or imprisons another person against his or her will without lawful authority. This act needs to be done with the intent to hold the victim for ransom, reward, commit or facilitate a felony, inflict bodily harm upon or terrorize the victim, or interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.  

Kidnapping is considered a first-degree felony in Florida. If convicted, it is punishable with up to life in prison. If the victim was under the age of 13, then it is considered an aggravated offense in which the defendant has most likely also committed one of the following crimes:

  • Aggravated child abuse
  • Sexually battery against a child
  • Lewd or lascivious battery, molestation, or exhibition
  • Forcing, compelling, or coercing a child to be exploited

Human trafficking In Summers’ case, the prosecutors charged him with kidnapping another person with the intent to commit a felony. Both the attempted murder charges and the sexual battery charge are felonies that would qualify for the necessary intent of kidnapping. The prosecutors have some additional elements that they must prove because the intent of the crime was to commit a felony (the sexual assault and attempted murder). The Florida Supreme Court in Faison v. State explains that in order for the crime to be a kidnapping, the abduction, confinement, or imprisonment must meet the following:

  • The kidnapping must not be slight, inconsequential, or merely incidental to the felony;
  • The kidnapping must not be the kind of inherent in the nature of the felony; and
  • The kidnapping must have some significance independent of the felony in that it makes the felony substantially easier or substantially lessens the risk of detection.

To find out more about kidnapping, false imprisonment, and its various defenses, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, it is imperative that you seek out legal help from a skilled defense attorney. Navigating the legal world can be intimidating and especially difficult to go alone. Summers’ case shows that it is highly important to have an attorney represent your case when it goes to trial. A guilty conviction can result in harsh consequences such as hefty fines, imprisonment, and the stigma of holding a criminal record. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state of Florida. We vow to stand in your corner and fight for your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Karissa Key

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