The man who shot and tried to cut up his romantic rival in a Laramie motel room last year will spend between 26 and 30 years in prison — the maximum allowed in his case.
Albany County District Court Judge Misha Westby imposed 30-year-old Hunter Fulton’s prison sentence Tuesday after a two-hour sentencing hearing where the victim’s family members wept and held each other as they struggled to articulate what they have lost.
The judge also ordered Fulton to pay nearly $7,000 in restitution to the victim’s family.
Fulton on June 25, 2022, shot Mathew Caggiano, 27, in the head with a 9 mm Glock near the door to Fulton’s motel room at Laramie.
Over the next four days Fulton, consistently drunk, bought power tools and tried to chop Caggiano’s body in half and his leg into segments while the body sat in the motel bathtub.
The murder came after Fulton’s girlfriend, Erin Wade, kissed Caggiano at Copper’s Bar in Laramie, according to witness statements.
His Loud Truck, His Music Blaring
Caggiano’s three siblings held each other as they approached the podium and wept over their memories — and the loathing they have for Fulton.
“He should have been driving up last Fourth of July weekend, in his loud truck, with his country music blaring,” said Caggiano’s younger sister, Angela Caggiano, as she sobbed.
She got married last month, less than a year after her brother’s death.
“Matt should have been here to dance with his baby sister on her wedding day,” she said. “But instead, I just listened to some of his favorite songs while holding his signature bowtie in my hand.”
Raised in California, Caggiano had moved to Idaho with his parents in 2020. He came to Laramie for a construction job in 2022.
Angela Caggiano said she sees him everywhere — in her baby girl’s “big, beautiful brown eyes” and in the backyard gazebo he built for their parents.
Mathew Caggiano's parents learned he was missing June 27, their wedding anniversary, said Angela Caggiano. They rushed to Laramie to help with the search. But at their hotel room June 30, the case detective knocked on the door. The Albany County coroner was with him.
“They’re only a fraction of who they were before they got the knock on the door and found out Matt was gone,” Angela said.
‘Did Our Son Say Anything?’
Caggiano’s mother Joyce Caggiano said it was the worst news any parent can hear. But they had to relive it as they repeated it to the rest of the family, who were anxious over Caggiano’s disappearance.
“Only a monster would do such a horrific act,” said Joyce, weeping through every word.
Joyce Caggiano turned to her son’s killer during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing and asked him questions.
“Did our son say anything before you shot him?” she asked. “Why didn’t you just tell Mathew to leave your hotel room?”
Fulton chose not to speak on his own behalf when his turn came. He sat with his head down, hands shackled and resting in his lap throughout the Caggiano family’s victim impact statements.
Fulton broke their hearts, Joyce Caggiano said, adding that “you will not break our family apart as we stand united and stronger to help each other through this horrific time in our lives.”
Caggiano’s father also spoke against Fulton, and asked Westby to give him the maximum sentence of 30 years allowed under his plea agreement.
Two Decades, Please
Fulton, conversely, asked via his attorney David Korman for a maximum sentence of 20 years by having Westby run the sentences on his lesser convictions at the same time as the larger sentence for his manslaughter conviction.
Fulton pleaded guilty in January to manslaughter, mutilation of a dead body, and possessing a deadly weapon with unlawful intent. Manslaughter is punishable by up to 20 years in prison whereas the other two felonies are punishable by up to five years each.
Korman said it’s important to realize that at some point, Fulton will be released. He said a longer sentence doesn’t necessarily guarantee Fulton’s rehabilitation, and pointed to a study indicating that swiftness of justice and certainty of getting caught discourage crime more than lengthy prison sentences.
Korman also referenced the 2021 case of BenniLee Strock, a Pavillion woman who was sentenced to 15-20 years for manslaughter for stabbing her husband in the belly, killing him, after the pair had a drunken fight on Christmas Eve 2020.
The defense attorney said he hoped to see a similar length of sentence for Fulton.
“My client has taken accountability for what happened,” said Korman. “He’s not pushed this matter to a trial. That’s an appropriate consideration.”
Fulton had a harrowing childhood, Korman said, and should be given a chance to rehabilitate.
Fulton in a sentencing memorandum said he thought Caggiano was raping his girlfriend, Erin Wade, in the motel room the night of the crime.
Becky Farley, Albany County chief deputy prosecutor, countered, saying the main bloodstain near the motel room’s door showed rather that Caggiano was either entering or exiting the room when Fulton shot him.
“He was in that room with Mathew’s body for four days,” said Farley. “The level of depravity Mr. Fulton must have to treat another human being like garbage is immense.”
‘Violent And Terrible’
Judge Westby refused Fulton’s request for the lesser sentence, calling the crime “violent and terrible.”
Sentences are supposed to punish crime, deter criminals, rehabilitate defendants and keep dangerous people away from the community, said the judge. But in this case, punishment is especially necessary, she added.
She also thanked Caggiano’s family for their testimonies.
“It’s brought to life by the statements from the victim’s family, and it provides such a poignant and terrible picture of what the family has gone through — and the impact on all of you,” said Westby. “I appreciate you coming forward and sharing that with me. I know that’s incredibly difficult.”
Westby ordered Fulton to pay various court costs, as well as $6,995.28 in restitution to the Division of Victim’s Services.
Reach Clair McFarland at: Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com