It was reported today that Dennis Brantner, 64, entered an Alford Plea in a Fond Du Lac courtroom in the strangulation death of Racine County resident, Berit Beck, almost 30 years ago. An Alford Plea allows a defendant to maintain his or her innocence while admitting there is enough evidence for a conviction. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Beck at the time of her death was an 18 year old, curly haired blonde, on her way to a job training seminar in Appleton, WI, her whole life ahead of her. She never made it. Her decomposed body, skull wrapped with a red gag, was found 6 weeks after she disappeared by a local farmer lying in a ditch 20 miles from where her car was discovered.

Brantner has always maintained his innocence. But while in prison for another crime he told an inmate he did it. He said he killed her but all the state had was his fingerprints in her van, and that was not enough to convict him.

So he entered a plea deal after his first trial ended in a hung jury, 11 having voted for conviction and 1 against. He can get 10 years in prison at his March sentencing. Meanwhile Berit Beck’s family and friends have had almost 30 years of punishment, almost 30 years of heart break, almost 30 years of loneliness, no family for her, no grandchildren for her parents. It does not seem fair. And that is the state of jurisprudence in America – scheming deals where the innocent are punished more than the guilty.

If it was my daughter…….


5 thoughts on “Punishment Parody

  1. Such a sad story. I went to high school with Bob Beck. My kids were close in age to his daughter. I felt pain for his family.

    God bless the Beck family.

    Mike Johnson

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. True, it doesn’t seem fair. But:

    They didn’t have enough evidence to convict him, as you say, and as evidenced by the fact that in a previous trial the jury hung instead of voting to convict.

    So, the prosecution’s choice was:

    – Work a deal that puts him behind bars for 10 years; or

    – Set him free.

    Given those as the only two viable choices, which do you prefer?


    1. Tom, Eleven jurors thought they had enough evidence to convict him. Who knows why the twelfth did not but Brantner himself admitted killing Beck to a fellow prisoner. Lock him up and throw away the key.


      1. Correction: A fellow prisoner CLAIMS Brantner admitted to killing Beck. What was he promised in return for saying that?

        The prosecutor was able to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury, or he wasn’t. He wasn’t, but he managed to get a deal that puts someone you believe to be a murderer behind bars for a period of time.

        So the question remains: Do you want the guy in jail, where he is, or do you want him walking free? Because those are the two choices.


  3. What I want is justice. The reason this plea was accepted was that the prosecuter was worried that a second jury might come back and find him guilty of second degree homicide. Because the statute of limitations had been exhausted on that charge, Brantner might have walked. In other words the system failed Berit Beck and her family because of a technicality. There should be no statute of limitation for murder no matter the degree – 1st, 2nd, or any other.


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