The trial for Matthew Scott Sullivan, 35, an ex-sailor, continued this week before a jury and San Diego Superior Court Judge Albert Harutunian III. Sullivan is accused of killing his wife Elizabeth Sullivan, 32, who disappeared in 2014, but her body was found in 2016 and not far from where the couple lived in 2016.
The decomposed body was found on the day that Matthew Sullivan moved across the country to Maryland, said Deputy District Attorney Jill Lindberg. She showed the jury the knife, which was displayed in a glass evidence case, that investigators found in the attic after he moved away.
Sullivan's attorney, Marcus DeBose, told jurors Elizabeth Sullivan had a habit of self-mutilating herself and her husband discovered she had broken a mirror and stabbed herself in the arm in her bedroom on Oct. 13, 2014. He said the blood that was found under the carpet came from that self-inflicted wound.
"Elizabeth had inflicted the wound on herself," said DeBose.
Matthew Sullivan tied a tourniquet around her arm, said DeBose, who added that she asked him not to call for medical treatment. She disappeared afterward, and two sheriff's deputies later said a woman who looked like her was found in a park where she sometimes slept, said DuBose.
DeBose said Elizabeth Sullivan's behavior was erratic, and she drank whiskey and used cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl.
Lindberg told jurors in her opening statement that Elizabeth Sullivan was stabbed to death with a knife that cut five of her ribs. After her husband moved away, a test was performed that showed large bloodstains under the carpet and padding underneath, said Lindberg.
Coincidentally, Sullivan went to a store in October 2014, and purchased only one thing – carpet cleaner, said Lindberg.
A missing person's report was filed in 2014. Police officers did check the three-story townhome, but they could not find any evidence she was there. An empty freezer was in the garage, and an officer noticed the freezer being empty but also plugged in at the time.
Two years later, after movers had emptied the house, the decomposed remains of Elizabeth Sullivan were found in the bay just one-half mile from home, said the prosecutor. A deputy U.S. marshal was walking his dog at Liberty Station on Oct. 4, 2016, when he noticed "a body on the shoreline" at low tide.
On the last day she was seen alive, Elizabeth Sullivan met with an attorney to obtain a restraining order that would bar her husband's in-laws from showing up at the home. No other calls came from her phone after Oct. 13, 2014, said the prosecutor.
The couple met in Virginia where Sullivan was stationed in the Navy and they married in 2010. Elizabeth Sullivan had two children during their marriage.
Matthew Sullivan was charged with murder in January 2018 and was arrested in Maryland where he lived with his children and a girlfriend. He has pleaded not guilty.
The trial is estimated to last until March 20. He remains in jail on $3 million bail.