WI man sentenced in 'county's most brutal murder'

Posted at 5:35 AM, May 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-05 05:35:18-04

BROWN COUNTY, WI (WLUK/CNN) – George Burch was convicted of strangling and beating a Wisconsin woman to death in 2016 after meeting her in a bar.

A judge ruled Friday that he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance for parole.

While Burch didn't say anything before being sentenced for Nicole Vanderheyden's murder, her loved ones took full advantage of the opportunity.

"He has no conscience, no soul. He shows no remorse," said Diane Detrie, the mother of Vanderheyden's boyfriend at the time of the murder. "He should be made accountable for all the emotional injuries."

Diane Detrie's son, Doug Detrie, is the father of Vanderheyden's youngest of three children.

"We have all been violated. We have had our privacy taken," Detrie said. "Vicki has had to bury a child, due to Burch's sick, perverted and violent actions. He is a predator, plain and simple."

Detrie's words were similar to those of Vanderheyden's parents, Steve and Vicki, and her sister Heather.

"You will forever be alone in your own thoughts until the day you die," Heather Meyer said to Burch.

Doug Detrie did not speak.

He was originally arrested for his girlfriend’s murder, but he was released from jail after 17 days.

Detrie instead wrote a letter, which District Attorney David Lasee read to the court.

"The pain and suffering I went through is nothing compared to the pain and suffering Nikki endured," Lasee read. "George Burch brutally raped and murdered Nikki while our son, Dylan, and I slept."

The only person to speak on Burch's behalf was one of his attorneys, who asked Judge John Zakowski to grant Burch the chance at parole in 25 to 30 years.

"I know the court is aware that things change, that people change, that circumstances change. We're unable to read the future," defense attorney Jeffrey Cano said.

Judge Zakowski told the court he wishes he could read the future. Instead, he decided to look at the past, comparing Vanderheyden's death to other high-profile murders.

"This is the most brutal murder that has ever been committed by one person in the history of Brown County," Zakowski said.

Zakowski said the evidence is overwhelming, and he questioned whether the crime would warrant the death penalty if Wisconsin had it.

"The answer is yes, Mr. Burch. This is a crime that would, I believe, merit the death penalty and for that you have to die in prison," Zakowski said.

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