UPDATE — 6:45 p.m., February 18, 2016
“I had nothing to do with the planning of or the taking of anyone’s life. I came home from another day of work only to find myself quickly introduced to a situation I never could have prepared for.”
In his address to the court, Kenneth Brunke maintained his innocence when it came to the events that led to the deaths of Jodi Hutchinson, Heather Aldrich, and Carrie Nelson last April. Brunke entered a plea agreement in October, where he pled guilty to obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer during a violent crime investigation.
Being that this was Brunke’s first time in trouble with the law, his attorney, Michael Winnick, asked Judge William Carmody for a lighter sentence.
“Mr. Brunke has been in jail for almost a year. I would ask you, within any applicable guideline, after all arguments are made, the applicable cells would each allow for a sentence in the county jail,” said Winnick.
Schoolcraft County Prosecutor Tim Noble asked Judge Carmody to depart from the guidelines, the first time he’s ever asked a judge to do that.
“Generally the sentencing guidelines are designed to fit the crime; this time they weren’t,” said Noble.
In the end, Judge Carmody agreed with the prosecutor.
“There was ample opportunity to take steps to right a significant wrong that you were obviously aware of Mr. Brunke. Right from the time you jumped in the car, you could have went in a different direction. There was no gun to your head. You were in a car alone,” said Carmody.
After the crimes were committed, Brunke fled to Illinois, where he was later arrested. Brunke was sentenced to 40 to 60 months in prison with credit for time served.
After Brunke’s sentencing, Prosecutor Noble talked about the triple homicide case as a whole for the first time.
“With the death of Ms. (Marietta) Carlson and the lack of cooperation from Mr. (Garry) Cordell, the most I could prove in court was what we got today. I believe this was the best we could do given the hand that we were dealt and the unfortunate change in events.”
Gary Cordell was sentenced to life in prison last November on three first–degree murder charges. Marietta Carlson died in jail last June.
It was later determined that Carlson’s death was due to Endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Before he was escorted to prison, Brunke was arrested on three additional felony charges, two counts of delivery or manufacture of cocaine, less than fifty grams and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.
Brunke is due back in court on those charges on February 29th.
MANISTIQUE — A man was sentenced to prison on amended charges to which he pleaded guilty last year.
Forty-six-year-old Kenneth Brunke was sentenced today in Schoolcraft County Circuit Court to 40 to 60 months in prison on obstruction of justice charges and lying to a police officer.
He entered a guilty plea on these two amended charges back in October. Brunke’s co–defendant in the case, 47–year–old Garry Cordell, was sentenced to life in prison last year for the deaths of Jodi Hutchinson, Carrie Ann Nelson and Heather Aldrich.