FRANKLIN Parish - UPDATE [10:30 p.m. 11/15/2017]
Just over one year ago, Kelly Kiper Longoria was abducted, shot in the head and left for dead in a lonely graveyard.
Yet, that wasn't the end of her story. Kelly miraculously survived.
"God has had his hand on all of this and everything happened for a reason," Kelly said.
Today a chapter in her life closed.
A jury took less than three hours to review the testimony of several witnesses and surveillance.
It's evidence the jury used to find Kevin Mathis guilty on three different charges including aggravated kidnapping, attempted first degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
"This was the trial of Kevin Mathis, but it was the story of Kelly Longoria and her triumph," 5th Judicial District Attorney Mack Lancaster said.
Longoria took the stand facing the man who kidnapped her, shot her in the head and left her for dead at the Gethsemane Cemetery. She detailed that horrible morning back in July of 2016.
"I knew her personally, I knew she was tough. Never did I know that she would show that over and over again," Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb said.
She was one of 11 witnesses on the prosecution's side that testified, including Sheriff Cobbs, investigators and even gravediggers who found Longoria the morning of the incident.
As for Mathis, he didn't take the stand.
"Now it's also a tragedy that she had to go through this, but it's also a tragedy that someone was at that point in their life that they would commit that kind of evil," Sheriff Cobbs added.
It's a tragedy that Longoria said through her faith and family's support she was able to get through.
Although her life was changed forever, she's thankful to be alive.
And despite this journey, Kelly shared a message for the man who tried to take her life, with a heart willing to give what she can never forget.
"We forgive you. We aren't going to hold this against you. We don't forgive the action, but we will forgive you as a person and we will pray for you," Kelly's husband Shane Longoria said.
UPDATE [4:00 p.m. 11/15/2017]:
After nearly three days in court the man accused of kidnapping, shooting a woman and leaving her for dead has been found guilty on three charges.
Kevin Mathis was found unanimously guilty on three charges including aggravated kidnapping, attempted first degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Throughout this trial prosecutors called 11 witnesses to the stand including the victim in this case, Kelly Longoria, Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobb, investigators and even gravediggers who said they found Longoria after she was shot and left for dead in a graveyard.
Prosecutors argued that Kiper was abducted at a gas station in Winnsboro on July 16, 2016.
Surveillance video was shown in court capturing Longoria walk into the store, buy a drink and walk outside to be abducted by Mathis.
In an emotional testimony, Longoria recounted this day in front of a full courtroom. She said Mathis forced himself into her car at the gas station and said he needed to go to the hospital.
When she insisted to drive, Longoria said Mathis wouldn't take that for an answer.
After missing several turns, this victim said the suspect then took her to the Gethsemane Graveyard. She said Mathis threatened her with a handgun, took her phone and debit card and demanded for its PIN number.
One of the last moments Longoria testified that she remembers that morning is asking Mathis, "Why are you going to kill me, I did everything you've said"
Longoria said she then woke up in a hospital in Mississippi.
Gruesome photos of the crime scene were also displayed in court showing the inside of Kelly's car which appeared to be covered in blood.
Men who were with Mathis the morning of this incident also took the stand for the prosecution. One said Mathis asked him to go to the bank to get money, showing him a blue card that resembled Longoria's.
Despite these testimonies, the defense argued that Mathis was innocent.
Defense Attorney Deon Young argued that there was no "physical evidence" in this case that would convict Mathis of the crime. He said that prosecution's investigation was not thorough and was incomplete.
Young questioned whether or not it was Mathis in the surveillance video and objected to the defense's lack of DNA testing on evidence collected, such as Kelly's phone.
He also pointed out that the weapon alleged to be used by the suspect was never recovered along with the debit card.
When it was time for the defense to call witnesses, it was announced that Mathis wouldn't be taking the stand.
After closing statements, jurors deliberated for nearly two hours before making a decision.
His sentencing is scheduled for January 10, 2018 in Oak Grove.
UPDATE: [9:00 p.m. 11/14/2017]
Jurors had barely been seated and had heard the opening arguments before prosecutors put ten witnesses on the stand.
These included Franklin Parish Sheriff Kevin Cobbs, multiple investigators, men who interacted with Kevin Mathis on the day of the crime and even a gravedigger who found Kelly Kiper Longoria shot, and left for dead.
Prosecutors allege that Mathis carjacked Longoria at a Winnsboro gas station before she went to work, shot her in the head and left her in the Gethsemane Cemetery.
They showed supporting video evidence including Longoria walking into the gas station, grabbing a drink and even the abduction itself.
They said Mathis is the attacker.
Gruesome photos were displayed, taking court room members to the scene of the crime. Photos show the inside of Kelly's car, covered in blood.
Kelly's husband, Shane Longoria, had many in tears as he described the journey she and her family has gone through this last year.
Prosecutors have one more witness to take the stand, Kelly herse.f
The defense maintains the case is not that clear cut. They have not said whether or not Mathis will take the stand.
The trial will continue Wednesday morning at 9:30.
The jury has been selected for the trial of a Franklin Parish man accused of attempted murder.
The jury consists of 5 men and 7 women. 11 Caucasian and 1 African American male.
Opening arguments are expected to begin at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
ORIGINAL STORY (11/13/17):
Jury selection is set to start in the Kevin Mathis trial.
Mathis is accused of attempted murder and will stand before a judge in Oak Grove court today. After, the judge moved his trial from Franklin parish.
Both Mathis and prosecutors agreed he might not get a fair trial there, because of the publicity surrounding the case.
In July 2016, police say Mathis abducted 22-year-old Kelly Kiper Longoria from a gas station while she was on her way to work.
He is accused of shooting and leaving her in an abandoned vehicle at a Franklin Parish Cemetery.
If convicted, Mathis could face life in prison for the aggravated kidnapping and up to 50 years in prison for the attempted first degree murder.
Stay with KTVE/KARD both on-air and online as we continue to follow this trial from jury selection , through opening arguments--testimony--and verdict.
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