Reporting Reg Chapman
OSAKIS, Minn. (WCCO) — Widower Mike Fortenberry says the murder of his wife is proof that harsher punishments are needed against career criminals.
Last year, Mike’s wife, Diane, a mother of two, stopped at home over lunch to leg her dog out.
She ended up walking in on a burglar and was beaten to death by the intruder.
Jeffrey Allen Brooks, 52, admitted to killing the Osakis woman last year, and on Tuesday, Brooks was sentenced to 35 years in prison – the maximum sentence.
But for Mike Fortenberry, he believes Brooks shouldn’t have been free to commit such a crime in the first place.
“These guys aren’t willing to go back to jail,” Mike Fortenberry said. “They’ll leave you laying there for four hours, for your kids to come in and find and devastate your family.
“(Brooks) did a crime five years ago and had 10 counts of burglary. And the judge had every opportunity to lock him away then.”
On Tuesday, Fortenberry brought a portrait of his wife into the courtroom, and the son that found his mother dead, was present, too.
The family’s testimony left Brooks in tears, openly weeping as Brooks said he has waited a year to tell the family and the community that he’s sorry.
Brooks could be released in 23 years for good behavior.
Mike Fortenberry said he hopes to see courts be stricter with how they handle career criminals.