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Jury discharged, unable to reach verdict in case involving death of Berit Beck

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FOND DU LAC -- The murder trial for a man accused of killing an 18-year-old Wisconsin woman in 1990 has ended with a hung jury -- and no verdict. The suspect in this case, 62-year-old Dennis Brantner, remains in jail -- and in limbo.

Judge Gary Sharpe discharged the jury Wednesday, June 29th after it was unable to reach a verdict. No one is saying at this point whether Brantner will be tried again with a new jury.

"Someone had asked if we plan to retry the case. We're keeping all the options open at this time," Eric Toney, prosecutor said.

The jury said it was deadlocked Tuesday, but resumed deliberations Wednesday before indicating again it was at an impasse.

"We did the best we could with what we were permitted to do and while you stand here and you think that wasn't good enough because of the result, Mr. Brantner will fight another day," Craig Powell, Brantner's lawyer said.

The family of Berit Beck was emotional. Their pastor read a statement, thanking the jurors and everyone who worked on this case.

"Those who continue to pray for and support us through this difficult time. We ask for privacy for the family as they gather their thoughts and seek the Lord as they move forward with the next step," Dan Miller said.

Brantner was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Berit Beck. It took more than two decades to arrest and charge a suspect in this case.

Dennis Brantner

Dennis Brantner

Jurors reconvened Tuesday morning after deliberating Monday afternoon.

After at least eight-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury indicated Tuesday afternoon it may not be able to reach a verdict -- asking the judge for instructions regarding this impasse.

The prosecutor argued that the jury didn't indicate it was impossible to reach a decision -- and that the jury should continue deliberating until a deadlock persists.

"I am reluctant to do nothing at this point and not give them a last opportunity or another opportunity to reach some resolution," Judge Gary Sharpe said.

Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, FOX6 News learned the jury would be headed home for the day, and there would be no verdict Tuesday.

The judge on Tuesday re-read his instructions to the jury, and the jurors agreed to resume deliberations Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the jury asked the judge if they could consider reckless homicide -- before deadlocking.

Berit Beck

Berit Beck

Back on July 17, 1990, Berit Beck made a stop at a store on her way from Sturtevant to Appleton for work. She was never seen alive again.

Beck’s van was found in a Fond du Lac parking lot two days later. Approximately five-and-a-half weeks later, her body was found in rural Fond du Lac County. Autopsy reports concluded that strangulation was likely the cause of death.

Berit Beck

Berit Beck

Berit Beck's body found

Berit Beck's body found

Two years ago, testing found Dennis Brantner's fingerprint DNA on Beck's vehicle.

According to a criminal complaint, Branter’s fingerprints were on a number of items officials found in Beck’s van — including a Burger King cup and a bleach kit. Officials say Beck bought the kit at Walgreens the day she disappeared.  A total of nine of the Racine truck driver's fingerprints were found either in the van or on items in the van.

In 2014, Brantner was questioned and eventually broke down into tears.

The defense says there is other DNA evidence in the van not linked to Brantner.

"I don't know. I don't know what to say. My problem is I don't remember if I did it. If I did it, I did it. If I did it, I don't know," Brantner said.

"These are just items in the van. They don't say anything to you about whether Mr. Brantner intentionally killed Ms. Beck. Nothing," the defense said.

"Follow the evidence. Follow that evidence and what I'm asking you to do is to find Dennis Brantner guilty of first degree intentional homicide," the prosecution said.

The prosecution argued Brantner was familiar with the area where Beck was killed, and where her body was dumped -- that he lived not far away.

Despite no verdict in this case -- Brantner remains in custody on $1 million bond. He will be sentenced in two weeks on drug charges after he was accused of smuggling drugs into jail last year -- allegedly because he wanted to commit suicide.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.


  • Angry Dad

    If the jury deadlocks and doesn’t find him guilty, he deserves to be lynched. This POS needs the death penalty. I went to school with Berit and this POS still walks and breathes while her family still doesn’t have any justice. I strongly support killing this POS by whatever means necessary asap.

    • Libsareliars

      What is really amazing is the evidence that this POS had on her van and yet these idiot jury members can’t come to an agreement. I question the IQ of these individuals.

      • Trump2016

        Leave it to libs like you to convict him before hearing the evidence. I guess they have a higher IQ than you.

      • Angry Dad

        All the evidence is there, I don’t know what liberal logic is holding up a guilty conviction.

      • Trump2016

        If “proving beyond a reasonable doubt” is a liberal logic, then the country is in a worse shape than I thought. Then again, you did find George Zimmerman guilty before hearing any of the evidence.

      • Libsareliars

        Hey Trump did you read the article? There was numerous items found in the van with this POS DNA all over it. When he was questioned he broke down and said I don’t remember killing her but if I did I did. Really?? Gee if someone with half a brain killed someone they would know whether they did it. A defense attorney would love to have you as a juror being a total dumb ass that you are.

      • Trump2016

        Sounds like you and Angry lib had already convicted him before hearing all the evidence. However, I’m not surprised that you have a hard time comprehending this article. Having his DNA in her car doesn’t equate to first-degree murder; that’s why the jury asked the judge if they can consider reckless homicide instead of first-degree murder before deadlocking. The libs would love to have you to join them being a total liar that you are.

      • Angry Dad

        Because my classmate was murdered by this POS? The evidence is there, I have no doubt at all that he is the only one responsible for her murder.

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