Berit Beck killer could receive new sentence in drug case

Courtesy: Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department

MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - The man convicted of killing Berit Beck in Fond du Lac County could receive a new sentence in a separate drug case.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court ruling in the Dennis Brantner drug case. Brantner appealed his conviction for being charged twice for possessing different doses of the drug oxycodone. Brantner claimed the conviction violates double jeopardy laws.

The Supreme Court sided with Brantner that counts 1 and 3 are identical.

A jury convicted him on those charges and eight others during a 2016 trial.

"Mr. Brantner also says that two of the charges on which
the jury convicted him were multiplicitous. One of the charges was for possession of 20mg oxycodone pills in violation of Wis. Stat. § 961.41(3g)(am) (2017-18).1 The other was for possession of 5mg oxycodone pills in violation of the same statute. We agree with Mr. Brantner, and so reverse the court of appeals with respect to his multiplicity challenge," reads the Supreme Court ruling.

CLICK HERE to read the full Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court has sent the case back to circuit court for possible resentencing.

"We therefore remand the matter to the circuit court to exercise its discretion in determining whether resentencing is appropriate in light of our conclusion that Counts 1 and 3 are multiplicitous," reads the Supreme Court decision.

The court did affirm the appeals court ruling upholding the venue of prosecution.

CASE DETAILS

In March 2015, Brantner made an appearance in Kenosha County Circuit Court. As he left the courthouse, Fond du Lac County detectives executed a search warrant against him. Brantner had been identified as the suspect in the 1990 murder of Berit Beck in Fond du Lac County.

The Fond du Lac County detectives asked Brantner if he had anything on his body that they should know about and patted him down. Brantner did not tell them that he had a bag of pills stashed in his left boot.

Detectives drove Brantner to Fond du Lac County Jail. During the booking process, they found 37 oxycodone pills. Brantner did not have a prescription for them.

At trial, Brantner claimed the possession happened in Kenosha County prior to his arrest--not in Fond du Lac County. Brantner also asked to dismiss one of the oxycodone possession charges. He claimed the state was trying to punish him twice for the same offense--violating double jeopardy laws. The court denied Brantner's motions.

BERIT BECK HOMICIDE

In March of 2018, Dennis Brantner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide in the death of Berit Beck in 1990.

Brantner was initially charged with the more serious crime of intentional homicide, but the charge was reduced under a plea agreement.

Eighteen-year-old Berit Beck disappeared in 1990 while driving to Appleton from her home in Southern Wisconsin. Her van was found in a Fond du Lac parking lot and body was later found in a ditch near Waupun.

An autopsy found Beck died of strangulation.

The case went cold for 25 years until investigators identified evidence they say ties Brantner to the crime. Two fingerprints were found on Berit Beck's van, and one fingerprint was found on an item Berit Beck purchased at a drug store.

Berit Beck and Dennis Brantner did not know each other, and officials say there would be no reason for his fingerprints to be in her van.

Brantner's defense claimed the evidence was circumstantial.

Brantner went on trial for 1st Degree Intentional Homicide in 2016. The case ended in a mistrial when the jury failed to reach a verdict. A juror told Action 2 News one member of the jury would not vote for conviction.

Prosecutors were ready to try Brantner again when both sides agreed to an Alford Plea. An Alford plea happens when the defendant agrees there is enough evidence to persuade a judge or jury to convict, but the defendant maintains his or her innocence.

Brantner will begin serving his 10-year sentence for Berit Beck's death after he serves his sentence for the drug case.

Online court records did not list a date for possible resentencing based on the Supreme Court's ruling.