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Dennis Brantner sentenced to 10 years in prison for 1990 murder of Berit Beck

Posted at 7:11 AM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 19:45:53-05

Dennis Brantner, the man found guilty in the 1990 homicide of Berit Beck, was sentenced Thursday to a maximum term of 10 years in prison.

"The public needs to be protected from you," said Fond du Lac County Judge Robert Wirtz to Brantner in court. 

The sentence will run consecutively to time Brantner is currently serving on drug charges, meaning the murder sentence will begin after his current sentence ends. 

Before the sentence was handed down, Judge Wirtz heard from several members of the Beck family. 

Her father, David, paused at times to hold back tears. 

"After 27 years, there was no preparation you could make for this day," he said. 

Brantner accepted a plea deal for second-degree reckless homicide in the case in early February in order to avoid a second murder trial. His plea allowed him to not admit guilt to the crime. 

"Everyone in this courtroom, including Dennis Brantner, knows what a guilty coward he is," said Diane Beck, Berit's mother, in court Thursday. "He did it, he knows he did it. It's time he stepped up and admitted it."

Berit Beck's death remained a cold case until 2014 when new DNA testing revealed fingerprints inside her van matched Brantner. 

In 2016, Brantner's trial in the case ended in a hung-jury. 

Berit Beck was 18 years old when she went missing 28 years ago while on her way to a computer class in Appleton. Police found her van in Fond du Lac two days after she went missing and her body one month later in Waupun. 

"We don't have to worry about Dennis Brantner being out on the streets any longer harming anyone else," said Diane Beck. "I wish someone would have realized long ago this man's mentality, maybe this never would have happened to Beri." 

Because Brantner was sentenced for Berit Beck's murder under old laws, he will be eligible for parole after two and a half years into his 10 year sentence. 

If parole is denied, he will be up for mandatory release about four years later, making him about 75 years old when he's released from prison. 

Because the statute of limitations ran out on other possible charges in the case, prosecutors weren't able to add anything in addition to second-degree reckless homicide.