Man gets life in prison for murdering 81-year-old

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –Matthew Brunn was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for killing an elderly man at a Walker hotel.

Brunn was found guilty July 22 of first-degree murder in the death of 81-year-old Casey Wybenga last December. Wybenga was well-known in Grand Rapids' Heartside neighborhood as an advocate for the homeless.

Wednesday in court, three family members of Wybenga spoke directly to Brunn before he was sentenced. Brunn stood listening stone-faced to Wybenga’s family, beginning with the 81-year-old’s son, who said he “takes no pleasure” in Brunn’s punishment for the brutal murder of his father.

“You killed my earthly father but it’s my heavenly father who sends me here today, to deliver the message to you that you are not a lost cause, that you are not unforgivable, that you are not unlovable, and that redemption is not out of your reach,” said Michael Wybenga.

“Jesus Christ loves you and wants to forgive you and wants to heal you. He wants to take your shattered broken pieces and put you back together and make you whole,” he said.

Brunn spoke only when he turned to address family.

“For what it’s worth, I am very sorry for everything that happened,” said Brunn.

Judge Buth sentenced Brunn to life in prison without the possibility of parole, for the first-degree murder of Casey Wybenga.

Brunn confessed to choking Wybenga to death last December, at a hotel room at the America’s Best Inn and Suites in Walker. Brunn told detectives he smoked crack in the room before he and Wybenga “fooled around naked”; all allegations that Wybenga’s niece will not accept.

“My uncle was a good man, a lot of things you hear are not true, a lot of accusations are not true,” said Rosemarie Gallapsy, Casey Wybenga’s niece. “I don’t know if God will forgive him for murder, I don’t know. I can’t believe it.”

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Matthew Brunn during his sentencing hearing Aug. 12. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Casey Wybenga.

 

Gallapsy, told FOX 17 in January that her uncle was afraid of Brunn and had lent money to him several times in the past.

After the murder, Brunn fled to Detroit, was arrested and brought back to West Michigan.

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