Sunday, January 2, 2011

Man sentenced to life in disappearence, murder, of mother of two - chief defendant's mom sentenced for mutilating corpse

(Original Post 7-16-09)
A Brookfield, WI man who allegedly strangled, then hired his friend and mother to burn a suburban Milwaukee mother's body was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and mutilating a corpse. Brandon J. Mueller, 36, was charged in the Jaunary death of his "girlfriend," 28 year old Renee Redmer, who he had been "dating" for a month.

Redmer was strangled around January 5, just after she appered in court for a misdemeanor cocaine posession charge, in Mueller's mother's apartment. Her family did not report her missing until January 13. Nancy J. Pinno, 53, Mueller's mother, of Fond Du Lac, WI and Donald R. Worth, 48, of the Town of Friendship in Fond Du Lac County, WI were charged with mutilating a corpse and aiding in a felony, and a misdemeanor of obstructing an officer after burning Redmer's body in a burn barrel, which was later emptied out into the middle of frozen Lake Winnebago. The burn barrel was later found on Worth's property.

The relationship between Mueller and Redmer was violent, according to the victim's family. Mueller has a history of domestic violence.

According to court records:
• Mueller was convicted in 2008 of disorderly conduct, with a domestic violence enhancement, and served 20 days in jail.

• In 2002, Mueller was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years' probation after he was convicted of disorderly conduct, with enhancement penalties of domestic abuse, being a habitual criminal and using a dangerous weapon.

• In 1998, Mueller was convicted of intimidating a victim with a domestic abuse enhancement penalty and served four months in jail.

• Also in 1998, Mueller was sentenced to three years' probation for criminal damage to property with an enhanced penalty of domestic violence.

Mueller faces a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole if convicted as charged. He is being held on $1 million bail. The others face 16 3/4 years for their roles in the crime. Pinno is being held on $250,000 bail, and Worth on $150,000 bail.

(Update 12-25-09) Two days ago, Pinno was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and 9 months in jail for being party to the crime of mutilating a corpse and resisting and obstructing an officer.

On Dec. 18, a jury found Pinno guilty after five days of testimony, including watching hours of footage in which Pinno confessed her involvement to detectives.

Nuss compared Pinno — whose criminal history includes crimes of theft and possession of THC — to Kevin Moore, a seemingly mild-mannered man who used a cinder block to kill his wife outside of their Ripon home during the early morning hours of Nov. 13, 2006.

Pinno told Judge Nuss that "I am sorry for any involvement I had with Renee.I still don't know how Renee got there. I should have looked in my bedroom. For that, I am so sorry." The victim's twin sister, Amber Donath, explained how she tried to tell her niece that "I find it impossible to explain to a 12-year-old girl that her mother was mutilated, violated and destroyed beyond the darkest imagination… All I can do is hold her and tell her I love her."

Fond du Lac County District Attorney Dan Kaminsky said that the "disgusting" and "callous" crime warranted 7 years in prison. "I believe it was a maximum-sentence case. It was just a question of how we were going to get there. I'm very pleased with the sentence. I think it's appropriate. In this case, it is justice."  

Defense Attorney Catherine Block told The Reporter there may have been too much focus on the connection between the mother and son, noting that Pinno put Mueller up for adoption 36 years ago and only had contact with him the past 1½ years.

"It was a very manipulative relationship," said Block, who requested probation for her client. "… There was a lot of focus on her son being Brandon Mueller. I think that had a lot less to do with it than Ms. Pinno's own mental condition and depression."

Judge Nuss said that Worth, a defendant who took a plea deal and will be sentenced later, might never have gotten involved if Pinno was not party to the crime, and that Pinno should have guided her son. "But for your actions, this may have never had happened. You were there at a critical time in this woman's life and your son's life when you could have stepped up and been the person you would like me to believe you are. You didn't."

(Update 1-2-11) Brandon Mueller was sentenced to life without parole Tuesday, December 28, 2010. Judge Robert Wirtz handed down this sentence for the 1st degree intentional homicide for strangling Redmer and 7 1/2 years for mutilation of a corpse. The victim's father, Mark Redmer said that "I'm asking please protect us and other fathers such as me. Don't let him out for any reason whatsoever. He's shown over and over what kind of individual he is."

Wirtz noted Mueller's criminal history started at the age of 15. His past includes six juvenile convictions, 22 adult convictions and three domestic abuse-related restraining orders. Redmer's father, Mark Redmer, said Mueller threatened to kill Renee's sister, Amber Donath, and Renee's children as a means to keep the victim close to him.

[ District Attorney Dan] Kaminsky noted motivation for murder may have been fueled by a disdain Mueller had for Redmer not telling him where she was going and who she was spending time with.

During the trial, Mueller claimed that while he strangled Redmer, it was unintentional, the result of a fight between them over her heroin use. While Mueller claimed he only took a few seconds strangling Redmer, Fond du Lac County Medical Examiner Douglas Kelley said strangling someone to death can take minutes.

Mueller himself said, "I want to apologize and just say that the lifestyle I was living was very sinful and not appropriate." He told Kaminsky, "I wasn't just going to throw her body somewhere. I considered it cremating it. I said a prayer when I spread her ashes into the lake. So I guess, yeah, technically, it could be an act of love."

Judge Wirtz told him, "You have caused a lot of sorrow and anguish. Renee's children are motherless. "Her whereabouts for quite some time were unknown. It is not comforting, I'm sure, for the parents, children, family members or friends to find out ultimately what happened."

Donald Worth's sentence handed down earlier this year was 6 years.

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