Sidney Woman Sentenced To 100 Years

On Monday, Jan. 23, Lyndsee Brewer was sentenced to 100 years in the Montana Women's Prison, with 30 years suspended, for the deliberate homicide of Christopher Wetzstein. A year ago last January, Brewer left her Forsyth home, drove to Sidney, and entered Wetzstein's apartment with a key he had entrusted to her. She hid behind his couch for hours, until Wetzstein fell asleep, and then went into his room and shot him in the head. Judge Katherine Bidegaray listened to letters of support from both the prosecution and the defense.

Charity McLarty was the attorney on behalf of the state, and Michael Haase and Hailey Forcella represented the defense. In a tearful statement, Jolene Flannagan, Wetzstein's fiance, said "I want Lindsey Brewer to stop playing the victim. She is a murderer. She robbed the world of a man who made it a better place. Because of her, one of the good ones are gone, and the world needs more good ones." Ron Watson provided a letter explaining that he raised Wetzstein and was a very "proud Dad." Heather Troxell explained her heartbreak. She considered Brewer and Wetzstein to be like family. "I lost both of my parental figures in one day. I don't know how to heal. I don't understand how you could've shot him while he slept." Brenda Wood, sister of the deceased, explained that Brewer and Wetzstein had a 30-year friendship that started in high school. "She made a choice, and she deserves the harshest punishment for this awful crime." Nakita Roberts asked Brewer, "Why would you take this man away from us?" Even though the defense objected, Judge Bidegaray allowed McLarty to show a video depicting Brewer's premeditation.

The video showed Brewer at a Forsyth gas station, filling her car, going in and paying cash, returning to her car, and crouching between the gas pumps and her vehicle to fill 2 gas cans with fuel before returning to the gas station again to pay with cash. She drove to Sidney and is shown walking up the steps to Wetzstein's apartment at 6:52 p.m.

She is shown wearing a hooded sweatshirt, hat and mask. Wetzstein entered the apartment building at 7:25 p.m. At 11:23 p.m. Brewer can be seen walking down the stairs wearing a different pair of pants. She also had something inside of her coat or hooded sweatshirt. For four hours and 31 minutes Brewer hid in her victim's apartment. The video showed Brewer leaving Sidney, as captured on various surveillance cameras, and stopping at a business in Billings the next day like nothing was wrong.

Brewer worked for Wetzstein for over 10 years, and there is evidence to show she may have been stealing from his business. The defense then shared their letters of support. Stephen Frost, the defendant's son, stated: "My mother has always lifted up everyone around her, while expecting nothing in return". He also spoke of how his mother had started a Bible study when she was hospitalized after Wetzstein's homicide. Jennifer Gardner is a retired bank officer from Forsyth and has known Brewer for 10 years. "I understand the severity of these charges, but I am writing a character reference for Lindsey Brewer. "Ashley Ford concluded the supporting statements by saying she has never even heard Lindsay Brewer raise her voice. "She is an amazing grandmother to my son." Brewer then addressed the court, showing her first emotion of the afternoon. Tearfully she read, "I have so much to live for, and I would never purposely remove myself from the lives of my grandchildren." Before sentencing, Judge Bidegaray explained to Brewer that, although she changed her plea to guilty and saved the state the time and cost of a trial, she never gave a reason for her anger at Wetzstein and has given the family no answers and no closure. She also explained how Brewer in her statements said "I do not dispute the evidence.", but did not take responsibility for the crime.

The state asked the court to impose a sentence of 100 years with 30 suspended and no parole restriction. The defense asked the court to impose a sentence of 40 years and no parole restriction. Wetzstein's family asked the court for the maximum sentence, which is 100 years or life, with no eligibility for parole. Judge Bidegaray declined to impose the more lenient sentence the defense requested because the defendant lie in wait, which is one of the few aggravating circumstances listed in Montana law. Bidegaray also did not impose the maximum sentence the family desired because of mitigating circumstances. First, Brewer pleaded guilty, sparing the state of an expensive lengthy trial, and more importantly, sparing Wetzstein's family and friends the added emotional trauma of sitting through a trial. Second, Brewer had no prior criminal history. When pronouncing the sentence Judge Bidegaray stated, "You had 7 1/2 hours to listen to the voice of reason that those speaking in support of you today say you have, and never in that time did it surface."


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