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…….