Fond du Lac County (WBAY) - A former Mondovi man charged with murdering a woman nearly three decades ago will avoid a second trial.
In front of a packed courtroom, a Fond du Lac County judge accepted Dennis Brantner's Alford plea in the 1990 slaying of Berit Beck.
Both the state and defense agreed to the Alford plea, which happens when a person agrees there is enough evidence to persuade a judge or jury to convict, but the defendant maintains his or her innocence.
Brantner agreed to plead guilty to a charge of 2nd Degree Reckless Homicide in exchange for a 10 year sentence. Brantner was set to stand trial Feb. 12 for the more serious charge of 1st Degree Murder.
"There is no amount of prison time or punishment that can bring 'Beri' back or take away the anguish this family experiences," said District Attorney Eric Toney. "My heart goes out to the family and friends of Berit Beck."
Brantner is accused of killing 18-year-old Berit Beck in July of 1990. Beck disappeared while traveling from Sturtevant to Appleton.
Her body was found in a ditch outside 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.
Dennis Brantner's first trial for Beck's murder ended in a hung jury and the court declared a mistrial. The district attorney announced he would re-try Brantner.
Brantner is serving a prison sentence for a separate drug case.