PRESQUE ISLE COUNTY, MI (WKBN/CNN) – After a heated courtroom exchange with testimony from the victim’s family, 55-year-old Brenton Walker told the court, “I am by no means sorry about what I did.” Walker was sentenced to 45 to 70 years in prison for killing and dismembering Heather Young, 42.
Walker said he and Young met at a bar in Onaway, MI, and went back to his home last July. He told police he became upset because Young started talking about her boyfriend, so he shot her in the leg with a .22 rifle.
Walker claimed he helped her bandage the wound, but she allegedly sprayed him with mace and tried to get away. He said that’s when he shot her again and later dismembered her body with a chainsaw and burned it.
He told the court Monday during his sentence hearing that he had just met Young before killing her, but murder was an idea he thought about a lot before.
“Well now, when I was given the opportunity to follow through with something that I’ve known for a long time that I’m capable of doing, it felt great,” Walker said. “I feel vindicated because of it. I’ve never felt better in my life.”
Several members of Young’s family sat and listened while Walker described why he chose to kill her.
“The fact that it happened to this particular individual is because, number one, she reminded me a lot of my ex-wife and other women I’ve been with before,” Walker said.
His harsh words were followed by some from Young’s family.
“I hope you will never again have a pleasant day for your entire life,” said Gail Walker, Young’s mother. “I hope you live in misery and pain for the rest of your life and you will be every prisoner’s ‘little Susie.’”
During most of the family’s testimony, Walker laughed to himself.
“He stands there with a smirk on his face,” said Young’s father, David Bentler. “That is not right, and they need to get ready to bring the death penalty back in Michigan.”
Walker took a plea deal in the case, pleading guilty to second-degree murder and felony firearm. In return, some of his charges were dropped, including first-degree murder.
Walker’s account of the crime startled those in the courtroom, even prosecutor Kenneth Radzibon.
“His actions were probably some of the most egregious actions by a perpetrator against a victim that I have experienced in my 40-some years of legal experience,” Radzibon said.
Young went missing July 30. State police found her body in August. State police say she left her boyfriend after a disagreement and was later seen at a bar in Onaway. Troopers interviewed a person who was reported to have last been with Young. The investigation led them to an 80-acre piece of property, where they found Young’s remains in a wooded area.
“It can happen anywhere,” Michigan State Police Lieutenant John Grimshaw said. “It really doesn’t matter where you live, unless maybe you’re on the moon and there’s no one else who lives there with you. Crime happens up here, and it’s just the nature of people being people.”