The man who attempted to bring weapons into Phoenix Comicon 2017 with reported plans to hurt or kill Power Rangers actor Jason David Frank has been sentenced. Matthew Sterling, who attempted to enter the Phoenix Convention Center with multiple loaded firearms before his arrest, was sentenced to 25 years in the Arizona State Hospital after he was rendered the verdict of "guilty except insane." He will serve his sentence in the state mental institution after being charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted aggravated assault, aggravated assault of an officer, resisting arrest, misconduct with body armor, and carrying a weapon into a prohibited place.
Sterling's arrest came after he made numerous posts to social media with threats toward the Green Power Ranger actor Frank, and one of Sterling's Facebook friends alerted authorities to his troubled writings.
Police arrested Sterling at the site of Phoenix Comiccon, now known as Phoenix Fan Fusion, on May 25, 2017. He was armed with a shotgun, three handguns, a combat knife, ammunition, and other weapons when he was taken into custody.
According to court records, Sterling set a reminder on his phone for the event to "kill JDF" on the day of the event; no one was injured at the event. The Maricopa County judge rendered the verdict over two years after the incident, and the trial included many mental health experts evaluating Sterling's condition.
In 2017, Frank spoke with Phoenix news network KPNX and expressed his desire to see Sterling receive aid: "Do I want him to serve jail time and get mental help? Absolutely."
Sterling's defense attorney Dwayne Cates revealed what's next for his client in an interview with the Phoenix New Times.
"He'll have a hearing in four to five months to see what his status is at that time," Cates said. "If he's deemed at some point to be restored to sanity, there are three things they can do. They can let him out, but he's still under the supervision of the state mental board [and] they can throw him back in any time they want. They can let him out under supervision, where he has to take meds or attend counseling. Or, if they think he's totally restored but just a danger to society, they can send him to the Department of Corrections to finish his [sentence]."0comments
Phoenix Fan Fusion organizers Square Egg Entertainment issued a statement after the verdict was rendered.
"We are pleased to hear that Mathew Sterling will receive the medical attention he needs at the state hospital. We are forever grateful to the Phoenix Police Department and the individual who first reported the incident for their quick thinking and actions that resulted in zero injuries and kept Phoenix Fan Fusion guests, fans, vendors, and staff safe. We are happy to be able to put this matter to rest and focus on the future of Phoenix Fan Fusion and bringing our fans the best pop culture entertainment events we can."