KEY WEST, October 25, 2019 – A Summerland Key teen who stole a gun and brought it loaded to Key West High School earlier this year pleaded no contest to three felonies on October 24 and has been sentenced to jail.
Matthew Whitener Jr., 16, pleaded to possession of a weapon on school property, burglary of a vehicle and grand theft of a firearm. Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Mark Jones sentenced him as an adult to 364 days in the Monroe County Detention Center followed by four years of probation. He must undergo a psychological evaluation, perform 100 hours of community service and is banned from all Monroe County School District properties. Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist represented the state.
School District officials and others were consulted on possible resolution to the charges and approved the outcome.
On April 12 this year, Key West High’s Key West Police Department acting school resource officer was called to the school office about a student on campus with a gun. They took Whitener and his book bag out of class and brought him to the office. Inside the bag was the firearm, a Walther PK380, with a bullet in the chamber.
Whitener originally told police he was “holding the gun for someone” else but changed his tune when police told him they would run the gun’s serial number through national computers to see if it was stolen. He then told police the weapon would come back as stolen “since he had stolen it from a car in Summerland Key.”
He later told Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies he had woken up in the middle of the night, went for a bicycle ride and checked unlocked cars for loose change and other things of value. He found the gun in “the fourth or fifth car” he checked
The gun’s owner reported it missing on April 13. He told deputies he normally leaves it on his night stand but the previous day, he had traveled and took it with him and left it in his car. He usually locks his car but his daughter had gone into it the night before to retrieve a school book and apparently left it unlocked. He looked for the gun all morning, then called the Sheriff’s Office when he determined it was gone. His gun’s serial number matched the gun Whitener possessed.