After 15 months of litigation and court hearings the Dennis Klingbeil murder trial saga is finally over in Park County. Judge Bill Simpson sentenced Klingbeil to life in prison without any opportunity for parole on Thursday afternoon.
Although the likelihood that Klingbeil, 77, would have ever been granted freedom even if given a lighter sentence was extremely slim, lengthy testimony was still delivered by both sides. Klingbeil and his attorneys, Donna Domonkos and Rives White, petitioned for a life imprisonment sentence, leaving the small possibility for parole at some point in his lifetime.
A letter was read before the courtroom that was written by Brad Lanken, Klingbeil's step-son.
Lanken talked of the trauma that the murder of his mother, Donna Klingbeil, has caused to his entire family. He also spoke to the lack of responsibility and consideration Dennis Klingbeil has shown since he shot his wife.
It was revealed during the hearing that Klingbeil had been offered a plea deal about a month before the trial in August, that could have avoided that hearing. The deal would have included a guilty plea to manslaughter, a penalty only carrying a 20 year maximum prison sentence.
But Klingbeil rejected the offer, forcing the case to go to a jury trial where he was eventually found guilty for first degree murder.
Dennis Klingbeil also spoke during the hearing and expressed sorrow and regret for what happened. He said the actions he took on Aug. 5, 2018 were completely inconsistent with the marriage and life he had shared with his wife for 43 years.
Simpson also assessed a $10,000 fine, $250 in court fees and $6,187.72 in restitution with the sentence.
There was little emotional reaction from Klingbeil's family after the sentence was delivered, but for the first time in any hearing related to the case, Lanken cracked a smile after talking with special prosecutor for the state, Mike Blonigen.