MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 21-year-old Minneapolis man will spend decades in prison for killing his neighbor inside her home.
Last month, Demetrius Wynne was found guilty of killing Susan Spiller in 2015. He stood trial as an adult.
In court Thursday afternoon, the judge sentenced Wynne to 27 years in prison with credit for time served, which is about three years. There’s no opportunity for probation.
Minnesota guidelines call for a 25-and-a-half year sentence, but prosecutors asked for 30 years. Judge Paul Scoggins believed 30 years was appropriate, but explained why he departed in the duration.
“I do still have to balance the fact that I am today sentencing something that occurred when the defendant was a child,” Scoggins said.
He was just 14 when he killed her. Four years later, he was arrested and charged with her murder after authorities say they matched fingerprints found on a window of Spiller’s home to Wynne.
Police believe he broke into Spiller’s home through a back window and violently attacked and killed her on either July 15 or July 16 in 2015. Spiller was later found beaten, strangled and stabbed five times. Her cellphone was also missing.
Spiller’s son, Jason, and other family members shared their thoughts after the sentencing.
“It’s not the maximum, which we were asking for, but it’s adequate, we appreciate it,” Jason Spiller said.
Earlier in court, he became emotional as he recounted how difficult the last seven years have been without his mom.
“It has brought about a multitude of feelings … feelings that someone should never have to feel,” Jason Spiller said. “I think about her daily and I love her and miss her dearly.”
His wife, Leyna, shared the moments her mother-in-law has missed out on since her murder.
“I think of how she was robbed of knowing two of her precious grandchildren,” Leyna Spiller said.
Wynne’s family and attorney stand firm in his innocence, and even asked for a re-trial at the beginning of the sentencing hearing, which the judge denied. His father says they will be appealing the verdict. He was in tears as he shared with reporters how he feels about the sentencing.
“My son is innocent. My son’s gonna go do some time that he do not deserve,” he said. “You just tore my whole heart apart. My heart is ruined.”
Spiller was a prominent artist and community activist who was also on the board of a neighborhood association on Minneapolis’ north side. She was known for a friendly and loving heart in a close-knit artist’s community.
Spiller, who was retired, spent her time volunteering for a greyhound rescue group.