- A state parole board rejected Matthew Poppe's request for an early release after showing a "shallow expression of remorse"
- Poppe and his then-wife, Julie Herrnkind, murdered their 3-year-old daughter in 2001
- He is able to reapply for parole in April 2022
A 47-year-old Staten Island, New York man guilty of brutally killing his 3-year-old daughter has again expressed remorse for his actions and sought his release from prison.
Matthew Poppe attempted to convince a state parole board he is no longer the same man who tortured and killed his child, Sylena Herrnkind, in 2001, local news outlet Staten Island Advance reported.
The Stapleton man and his then-wife, Julie Herrnkind, rubbed the young child's body with an abrasive scouring pad and force-fed her soap. The little girl died of asphyxia after the couple held her head under running water for four or five minutes.
"I failed her as a father. I deserve every day I've done, and I live in prison, whether I'm here or not, because I have to live with what I did that day," Poppe said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
"I believe that I have learned from my horrible, horrible decisions back then -- my horrible, horrible actions. And I’ve used these 19-plus years to change how I think, and how I see, and how I behave."
The two-member panel, however, was not convinced by Poppe's statements and rejected his parole request once again like in previous years.
"It is devastating that you would use a minor child to unleash such anger, and this panel questions if you, in fact, know the deep-rooted cause to your inhumane treatment of a defenseless child," the board wrote.
Poppe reportedly admitted to the board members during the interview that he and Julie had emotionally, physically and verbally abused their five young children, including Sylena, before she died. But the board was dissatisfied with Poppe's explanation for his actions.
"Your criminal and brutal behavior of [Sylena] escalated to such severity that led to her death, and your inability to stop even after hearing her scream and your shallow expression of remorse led this panel to conclude that you are capable of felony violence if released," the board added.
The panelists, however, noted Poppe's accomplishments while in prison. They pointed out he had earned a bachelor's degree in psychology, was an instructor in the ART (Aggression Replacement Training) program and completed all mandated programs. Poppe also received "numerous" letters in support of his release, as per the Staten Island Advance.
But the board maintained its rejection of Poppe's parole, writing, "Due to the gravity of your actions and the serious and senseless loss of the life that you took, the Board of Parole concludes that your release at this time would so deprecate the serious nature of the crime as to undermine respect for the law."
Poppe, then known as Matthew Herrnkind after taking his wife's surname, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder before the State Supreme Court in 2003 and is serving a 15-year to life prison sentence. He can reapply for parole in April of next year.
Julie, who Poppe said controlled him during the killing, is serving a 25-year sentence after she was acquitted of second-degree murder but was convicted of first-degree manslaughter. She can apply for early release in April 2023.