Monday, January 31, 2011

Chief Master Sergeant sentenced to 20 months for sexual harassment of subordinates

A former Chief Master Sergeant for the US Air Force was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge for having "affairs" with ten subordinates. Chief Master Sgt. William Gurney was convicted of 15 counts after a 5 day court martial. Scott Air Force Base, Ill was the site of the court martial. According to the complaint, the sexual misconduct lasted between 2007 and 2009.

Gurney pleaded guilty to seven charges of dereliction of duty for failing to maintain a professional relationship with seven female subordinates, one violation of wrongful misuse of government property, one violation of indecent conduct with a female master sergeant and four violations of committing adultery with four female subordinates, according to a news release from the 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs team at Scott.

Gurney entered the blind plea because he was“derelict in misusing his position by consensually exchanging explicit pictures with female subordinates and by fondling or kissing them.” He also sexted, kissed, and fondled female subordinates, and had sex with his wife with a married subordinate present.

According to prosecutor Capt. Tania Bryant, “As a chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, it was his responsibility to lead, mentor and guide his enlisted troops,” she said. “How did he do that? He abused his position, marred the reputation of AFMC and blackened the eye of the Air Force.”

Defense attorney Maj. Lance Wood said the misconduct was“almost exclusively about mutual affairs with adult women” and that Gurney took “moral and legal responsibility” for his crimes.

However, prosecuting Maj. Patricia Gruen showed photos of Gurney's penis, a photo he sent to a senior airman. Gruen said that that photo, and not his stripes, “was how Chief Gurney chose to represent himself and the U.S. Air Force..He was out there as one of the Air Force’s very, very, very, very best,” she said. “He was Superman. They were flattered and they couldn’t imagine a command chief paid any attention to them, much less directed attention to their careers. But this Superman charged for his services, and he ultimately charged a price they wouldn’t pay.”

During a speech just before sentencing, Gurney said “I essentially lived a double life in which my actions were not those of a senior leader at a majcom of the Air Force,” Gurney said, crying and pausing several times as he read from a statement. “I am not a bad person. I made some bad decisions. I got caught up in a cycle of sin.”

He also talked about how his two daughters were leery of entering a grocery store because of fear of being recognized. The oldest daughter, just 15, is taunted at school because of her father's actions.

Gurney’s confinement was scheduled to begin Friday night, but his case isn’t over. The convening authority, 18th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, will review the sentence and have the final say. And Gurney’s dishonorable discharge and his prison term trigger an automatic appeal to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Gurney and lawyers for both sides declined to talk with reporters after sentencing. Air Force Materiel Command spokeswoman JoAnne Rumple released a statement on the case, but it did not say if commander Gen. Donald Hoffman has been following the case or he had any comment.


Michelle Lindo McCluer, the executive director of the National Institute Of Military Justice, said “A dishonorable discharge is the worst kind of punitive punishment you can give at a court-martial.  I’ve seen that given to people convicted of rape and murder and occasionally desertion. To give it in a case like this? That’s definitely sending a message.”

Besides the dishonorable discharge, Gurney was demoted to airman basic and will be stripped of his  $6,215.70 a month  pay and allowances while incarcerated.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mother of two boys gets justice - ex-husband sentenced to 6 years for forced oral copulation

A suburban San Diego man was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and lifetime registration as a sex offender for the forced oral copulation of wife back in 2008. The victim, Crystal Harris, was attacked initially on March 28, 2008, when Shawn Harris, her husband, forced her to perform oral sex on her, and followed it up with vaginal rape. Three days later, Crystal claimed that her husband force himself on her anally.

Crystal Harris testified that her husband told her the forced sex acts were "punishment" because he believed she had lied to him. The later incident was the trigger for the police investigation.

Shawn Harris testified that the acts were part of sexual role-play.Although the jury found Harris guilty of forcing oral sex, the panel split over the remaining charges of rape and sodomy, and leaned toward acquittal. Instead of retrying Harris on those two counts, prosecutors dropped those charges.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan Weber sentenced Shawn Harris to 6 years in prison and a lifetime on the California sex offender registry Monday, January 24. Part of Crystal's victim impact statement is below and the full statement can be found here.

"The very person I expected to protect me from such horrible atrocities was the one person I needed protection from. My heart still breaks when I think about how this happened and how our lives came crashing apart...We can talk about spousal abuse, and we can talk about stranger rape. But we do not talk about spousal rape. Ever. Yet here I was in this situation where my own husband committed this ultimately humiliating and private crime against me."

As for her now ex-husband, the victim said she saw no remorse, only arrogance from her baby's daddy.

"I sincerely apologize to anyone affected by my actions," Shawn Harris said. "I do not feel any ill will toward my spouse."

Judge Weber said to the perpetrator, "Your conduct does show a serious danger to society. I hope at some point you can come to grips with what you did." Weber called the attack the "ultimate taking advantage of a position of trust."

Crystal's battle with her now ex-husband isn't over. They are fighting over the custody of their two sons. He is currently requesting that their sons have the chance to see him while he is behind bars.  "It's not fair for someone to force children to visit the man who raped their mother," she said.\

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Blue Eyed Rapist" sentenced to 70 more years in prison - currently serving over 200 years total


David Hopper, 44, the "Blue Eyed Rapist" suspected in an many as 9 attacks on Cincinnati area women between 1992 and 2006, was sentenced to 40 more years in prison by Judge James Flannery. The Burlington, OH man was offered numerous plea deals on the pending charges, including deals to life sentences, which he turned down. He finally accepted a plea deal to a dozen counts regarding the latest victims for 40 years in prison. The victims in this case were raped at a model home showing in 2006.

"Forty years in prison will either cause you to die in prison, or you will be so old you will be harmless at that time you are released. I think society will be adequately protected."

The February 2006 attack on the two model-home attendants in a subdivision near Springboro led to Hopper's arrest in nine attacks since 1992 in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

He pawned two rings he took from one of the women at a Northern Kentucky pawnshop. Hopper was videotaped on security camera. He gave his name, address and Social Security number.
Police charged him in nine attacks on women, many of them store clerks working alone. DNA evidence linked the attacks to Hopper in five cases, authorities said.


That woman decided at Hopper's sentencing that she didn't want to be known as his victim anymore.

"After today, I want to be referred to as the woman who brought the blue-eyed rapist to justice. He has taken enough from me. I was just doing my job that day, and since then, my life has been turned upside down."

In the Warren County attack, prosecutors said Hopper walked into the model home in the Greycliff subdivision with a silver-colored handgun and demanded the women's purses and jewelry.

He forced them into the basement, removed their clothing, sexually assaulted one of them and made the women have sex. He bound and gagged them and barricaded them in the basement, leaving with their clothes and an ATM card.


They squeezed through a basement window and ran naked to a neighbor's house for help.


Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel said about the attacks that "This is about as horrible a crime as you can commit without murdering somebody." His latest 40 year sentence will be added to a 34 year sentence for federal gun charges and state charges related to his Kentucky attacks. The first 32 years of his sentence will be spent at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, KY (FMC Lexington). Hopper faces more charges in Ohio and Indiana.

(Update 1-27-10) A week ago, on January 19, Hopper was sentenced by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Pat Sheeran to serve another 23 years in the rape of a suburban Cincinnati GNC clerk which occurred on November 28, 2003. The victim, who attended his sentencing January 19, 2010, said that "I'm the one who has control now. I'm the one with all the freedom while you sit in jail."

Ohio prison sentences are served without chance of parole, and Hopper faces additional trials in Hamilton County, OH and Indiana.

(Update 1-17-11) Last month on December 14, 2010, Hopper was sentenced to 70 additional years imprisonment for the rape of a woman at a shoe store in 2004. The rape occured in Aurora, IN , and Hopper's guilty plea and sentence were handed down in Dearborn County (IN), with Judge James Humphrey presiding. Hopper's official charges he plead guilty to were criminal deviate conduct with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, and criminal confinement with a deadly weapon.

The criminal deviate conduct with a deadly weapon netted Hopper 50 years, and the robbery and criminal confinement counts added 20 more years to Hopper's sentence.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lawsuit by 17 year old boy alleges school did nothing to protect him from teacher - teacher sentenced to 2 years sex offender probation

(Original post 8-21-09)
A math teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old boy at a Chicago West Side college preparatory school was sued by the boy's family yesterday. The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, willful and wanton misconduct, negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. Damages are over $50,000 per count, excluding court costs.

The student-athlete, an unnamed minor, was recruited and enrolled at Chicago Hope Academy, 2189 West Bowler Street in the Near West Side neighborhood on the West Side, in 2005, the suit said.

Beginning in the spring of 2008, when the boy was 16 years old, his math teacher Kathryn Vail-Wesley, 22, “publicly and privately showered Plaintiff with attention and affection,” the suit said.Vail-Wesley “would hug or touch Plaintiff on an almost daily basis during the 2007-2008 school year, and would invite Plaintiff to her home,” the suit said.

Vail-Wesley was “well-liked” by students, and the boy felt “privileged to receive attention” and looked to her as a “mentor, leader, protector and authority figure,” the suit said.

After the grooming, Vail-Wesley began making phone calls and “gratuitous inappropriate and/or intimate discussion regarding her private life and sexual history,” eventually approaching his for sex because she was fond of him and wanted to “mix [his] chocolate skin with [her] vanilla skin.” This culminated in repeated sexual encounters between August and October of 2008. The end of the relationship occurred after Vail-Wesley’s husband, a fellow teacher at the school, found his wife and the victim, physically assaulting the victim.

Vail-Wesley’s solicitation and sexual exploitation of the boy included sexual touching, kissing, intercourse and other sexual acts. It occurred in various locations, including but not limited to classrooms, passageways, the teacher’s lounge, chapel and other locations on the Academy’s premises, the suit said. Vail-Wesley explained that her sexual behavior was a “reward” for the boy’s good athletic performance for the school's football team, the suit said. She would attend the boy’s football games exclusively wearing his jersey.

Vail Wesley has been charged with 5 counts of sexual assault, with the trial still pending. The lawsuit stated that teacher student boundaries were blurred, particularly between teachers and student-athletes. The perp's sexual actions were “regular and conspicuous” and “should have been apparent” to other teachers and coaches, but "[a]cademy staff turned a blind eye to Vail-Wesley’s inappropriate attention.”

The lawsuit says that school administrators, teachers, and coaches began to intimidate the victim, culminating after the administration gave the boy a choice to either withdraw or be expelled from Chicago Hope, disrupting both his academic and athletic careers.

(1-14-11 - guilty plea to lesser charges) Vail-Wesley was sentenced to 2 years of sex offender probation Wednesday, January 12, 2011 after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The other counts of sexual assault were dropped by prosecutors. Chicago Hope principal Mike Laneve said that “Chicago Hope Academy doesn’t discuss school affairs in public.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Former beauty queen pleads guilty to soliciting kidnapping of "boyfriend," sentenced to 2 years in prison, 6 years probation

(Original Post 12-10-09)
A former beauty queen has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault Tuesday, December 8. Twenty-seven year old Kumari Fulbright's guilty plea was heard and accepted by Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Nichols, who will formally sentence her to two years in prison for aggravated assault and seven years probation for kidnapping.

Fulbright and three other defendants, Larry Hammond, Robert Ergonis, and David Wayne Radde planned and carried out the attack, according to law enforcement. The motive for the attack, according to prosecutors, was Fulbright's anger at her jewelry being pawned off to settle a $16,000 drug debt.

Defense attorney Steve Weiss told Judge Richard Nichols that Fulbright conspired with others to restrain her former boyfriend in December 2007 and brandished a knife near his ear, threatening to cut it. Although she signed a plea agreement, Fulbright was reluctant to verbally acknowledge her actions and accept the terms in court, as required, saying she did not agree with her attorney's description of the crime.

Each time Nichols asked Fulbright if she committed a particular act, she refused to answer directly. Instead answering yes or no, Fulbright told the judge such things as "I agree I'm pleading guilty" or "I am guilty" or "The evidence shows that."

At one point, Fulbright also snapped that she reads, writes and understands English and she signed the plea agreement. Eventually, Fulbright said, "OK, yes" when asked if she conspired to have the man restrained, she brandished the knife and she threatened him with it.

Fulbright was a law clerk for a federal court and a law student at the University of Arizona. She won the Miss Pima County pageant in 2005 and the Miss Desert Sun pageant in 2006. Hammond plead guilty to aggravated assault, and faces a sentence of as much as 8 3/4 years in prison. Radde also plead guilty to kidnapping conspiracy charges and faces 3 to 12 1/2 years in this case as well as another 3 to 12 1/2 years for unrelated drugs and weapons charges. All sentences will be handed down after the trial of Ergonis.

(Update 12-13-10) The former law clerk was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and 6 years probation for her role in the kidnapping of her "boyfriend." Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Miller handed down the sentence after Fulbright pled guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and aggravated assault in a Tuscon, AZ courtroom Thursday, December 9.

Defense attorney Steve Sherick asked for 18 months of probation. Prosecutor Michael Jette didn’t specify how long he thought she should be placed on probation, but told Miller she didn’t live up to the terms of her plea agreement and almost had it revoked.Jette told Miller Fulbright has done “anything and everything” to protect Ergonis, thus violating her promise to tell the truth on the stand. She also told Radde what he should testify, Jette said.

[The victim]’s desire to move on with his life is the only reason Fulbright was extended a plea agreement in the first place and it’s the only reason it hasn’t been revoked, Jette said. Fulbright still hasn’t accepted responsibility for her actions or shown remorse, Jette said.

Sherick told Miller his client’s testimony was truthful and consistent with police statements and defense interviews she’s given. The defense attorney cited Fulbright’s remorse and behavior while on pretrial release and while in jail as reasons for a short term of probation.

Besides the prison sentence, Fulbright was also ordered to pay $15,000 restitution to her victim. Ergonis will be sentenced later this week.

(Update 1-12-11) Ergonis was sentenced to 22 1/2 years imprisonment on December 16, 2010. He was convicted in November 2010 by a Pima County jury of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated robbery. It was revealed that Fulbright had been "dating" Ergonis for months, writing him while he was on tril to tell him that the prosecution had no case and that she did not want to testify against him.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wife gets too light sentence for running over and killing husband during drunken argument

A wife who ran over her husband during a drunken argument, killing him, was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison by Rockland County County Court Judge Charles Apotheker on January 3, 2011. 33 year old Kelly McElroy of Stony Point, NY, faced a maximum of 7 years for 2nd degree vehicular manslaughter, a sentence that the victim's family wanted. After last October's guilty plea to the vehicular manslaughter charge and a DWI, Judge Apotheker promised a maximum of three years.

In the early morning of January 24, 2010, Kelly McElroy and her husband, Glenn, 26, left a pub and drove home. During a heated argument, the husband got out of the car and Mrs. McElroy, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.16 percent, struck Glenn.

Emergency responded found him unconscious with severe head injuries. He died on January 30 at Nyack Hospital when he was removed from life support.

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said his office “ believe[s] that the ends of justice have been served.”

However, local opinion suggested that McElroy's sentence was too light.

Stony Point Mom asked,  How can the judge "promise" three years and consider less? That doesn't sound like a promise - it sounds like no justice for Glenn and his family...It's hard to understand how you can be drunk, kill someone's son (and the father of your children) and get away with a slap on the wrist.

Another local said,

What is a human life worth these days? For Rockland County Court Judge Charles Apotheker the answer is 1 to 3 years in prison. Apotheker said that Kelly McElroy, a woman who ran over her husband while driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, will have to, one day, answer to a "higher authority." That's all well and good but Judge Apotheker represents a higher authority in this life. McElroy pleaded guilty in October to second-degree vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.

Apotheker should be held accountable for this absurd sentence that does not in any way equate to the loss of a young man's life.

Frank DeGennaro


Nanuet

Wife who set fire to husband's apartment gets 5 years

A wife who set fire to her husband's Hartwell, OH apartment, destroying it and two others, was sentenced to 5 years in prison followed by 5 years of probation on January 3, 2011. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Martin imposed the sentence on Shenique Anderson after she plead guilty on November 29 to a single count of aggravated arson. Five counts of arson were dropped by prosecutors as a result of the plea.

During the incident, Anderson claimed that someone was trying to burn down her apartment and was trying to kill her when she called 911. $600,000 in damage was done to 6 apartments, half to the building and the other half to other tenant's property. The husband had a restraining order out on Anderson at the time of the arson.

In court [the] morning [of January 3], Anderson said she believes brain damage she suffered to an organic brain disease, played a part in her setting that fire. She also said she suffers from bi-polar disorder and was in manic-high phase when this happened.

Anderson's apology is as follows. "First off, I want to apologize to my children. We've always had a close relationship and I also want to apologize. I also want to apologize for any inconvenience I have caused on my neighbors."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Duke lacrosse accuser charged with attempted murder of "boyfriend", convicted on misdemeanor counts


(Original post 2-19-10)
The Duke Lacrosse accuser has been charged with serious offenses of her own, including arson and the attempted murder of her "boyfriend." 31 year old Crystal Mangum attacked her "boyfriend" and set his clothes on fire while her three children were inside, according to an arrest warrant handed out Wednesday night.

According to the arrest warrant, Mangum scratched, punched, and threatened her "boyfriend," Milton Walker after he decided to break up with her. Mangum's 9 year old daughter called 911.

After picking up the remains of his clothes, the victim said, "I don't know what she was thinking, sometimes she does things without thinking...I believe Crystal is a good person, so there's no problem. We were friends before so I hope everything works out for the best,"

In March 2006, Mangum accused three Duke lacrosse players of raping her at a party where she was hired to strip. The case gained national attention. In April 2007, all charges were dropped by Attorney General Roy Cooper. The case also led to Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong being disbarred. Mangum later released a book entitled "The Last Dance for Grace: The Crystal Mangum Story."

Mangum is currently being held on $1 million bond. Her official charges are 5 counts of arson, 3 counts of misdemeanor child abuse, attempted first degree murder, assault and battery, identification theft, communicating a threat, injury to personal property, and resisting [a] public officer.

(Update 1-7-11 - mistrial on arson charges) Last month on December 16, Mangum was found guilty of injury to personal property, child abuse, and resisting an officer. Superior Court Judge Abe Jones sentenced her to 88 days in jail - time she had already served. Jurors deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of a non guilty verdict on the 1st degree arson charge. Three of those jurors believed Mangum was guilty of being reckless in setting fire to the "boyfriend"'s clothing.

Supporter Victoria Peterson reiterated a claim by the Friends of Crystal Mangum that authorities were punishing Mangum for accusing Duke lacrosse players of rape in 2006. Mangum was retaliating against her boyfriend, Milton Walker, for allegedly punching her in the face; Walker was never charged. "It's a victory," Peterson said of the judge and jury's decisions.

Over the past 10 months, Peterson and others have complained about Mangum's treatment, which included an attempted murder charge, $1 million bond, the 88 days in jail and a no-contact order with her children."There did seem to be a lot of severe charges for what the evidence showed," said jury forewoman Shauna Mitchell.

Meanwhile, Durham County prosecutor Mark McCullough will decide later this month whether to retry Mangum on the 1st degree arson count.

DNA database hit leads to Minneapolis rape suspect, two trials, acquittal

(Original Post 5-9-08)
A Brooklyn Park man was arrested after a DNA hit linked him to the kidnapping and rape of a woman from a Minneapolis nightclub last summer. Duncan Nyanaro Osoro, 24, has been charged with 1st degree criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

The woman told police she was at the Karma nightclub on August 26, 2007 in Minneapolis when a friend became sick and threw up after only two drinks at a nightclub. This friend had never became sick after drinking before.

Between 2 & 10 AM, the victim was unconscious in a grassy area near I-94. When she came to, blood was on her white shirt, hands and knees, and a subsequent sexual assault exam at the Hennepin County Medical Center revealed the rape. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s DNA database matched osoro to the evidence at the scene.

(1-7-11 Acquittal) After two trials, Osoro was acquitted of kidnapping and rape charges against him. The final acquittal came December 23 after a three week trial and an hour of deliberation. Osoro was held in jail for 16 months, according to his attorney, Joseph Fru, who suspects race played a role. Despite the acquittal, Hennipin County Prosecutor Mike Freeman maintained the peosecution was just. "The jury made its decision, we believe in the system, and we accept the decision. We're moving forward."

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.