More than three months after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder, Dennis Klingbeil faces sentencing Thursday in Park County District Court.
Judge Bill Simpson will be charged with making a decision on whether Klingbeil, 77, will ever be eligible for parole.
Under Wyoming law, first degree murder can be punished by death, life imprisonment without parole, or life imprisonment.
The Park County District Attorney’s Office ruled back in December 2018 that it would not be pursuing the death penalty against Klingbeil, long before the 12-person jury found him guilty in August. This leaves the question of parole the only factor still undecided in a case dating to August 2018.
Since originally being charged a few days after killing his wife in their Wapiti home, Klingbeil has been in custody at the Park County Detention Center.
The state spent the course of the 4 ½ day trial pressing for first degree murder, defined as an act of premeditated malice. Also on the table for the jury to consider was second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter – an act of reckless, yet not purposed act of killing.
Despite expansive arguments provided by the defense as to why the state could not unequivocally prove his actions were premeditated in the shooting of his wife Donna Klingbeil, it only took the jury two hours and 20 minutes to render its decision.
It was the first murder trial in Park County in 18 years.
Along with the sentencing, Mike Blonigen, special prosecutor for the state, requested that $12,211.85 in restitution be included in the sentence. This fee includes $6,187.72 in travel and hotel expenses for witnesses and experts who provided testimony during the trial. Part of this is $2,465.72 for sheriff’s deputy travel from the Park County Detention Center to the courthouse.
The second half of the restitution includes $6,024.13 in counseling fees for Donna’s biological son Brad Lanken. Lanken and other members of Dennis’s and Donna’s family were in attendance throughout the trial week. He was called on to testify during the trial because of his role mediating his parent’s trust disputes and was visibly shaken after the guilty verdict was issued.
He declined to comment afterward.
The sentencing will start at 3:30 p.m.