MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Danny Heinrich will receive his prison sentence Monday morning. Heinrich, who confessed to killing Jacob Wetterling and sexually assaulting Jared Schierl, will go to prison on a federal pornography charge — not for murder or assault.
The sentencing is the result of a plea deal. Heinrich took police to Wetterling’s remains and confessed to killing him, and assaulting in Schierl. In exchange, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with murder. The statute of limitations had already expired for the assault.
Chief Judge John Tunheim is expected to sentence Heinrich to 20 years in prison, the sentence agreed upon in the plea deal.
At the hearing, the Wetterlings and Schierl will have a chance to speak and Heinrich will have the opportunity to address the courtroom.
The judge has already received letters from some of Heinrich’s victims, including Schierl and the Wetterlings. The judge also received letters from a few of the victims in the child pornography found at Heinrich’s home.
In the government’s position on sentencing, filed in court, prosecutors cite the numerous interactions between Heinrich and police when he failed to confess. Heinrich was interviewed months after Wetterling’s disappearance in 1989, and again in 1990. Police searched Heinrich’s home on January 24, 1990, and had him participate in a lineup two days later. In February 1990, police arrested Heinrich for the kidnapping and assault of Schierl, but there was not enough evidence to charge him. Prosecutors write that even “the advent of ‘jail house snitches’ could not resolve the mystery.”
In 2015, police searched Heinrich’s home again, and found the unrelated child pornography that led to his arrest and charge nearly 27 years later.
Prosecutors write Heinrich’s “silence let this unsolved disappearance grow like a cancer throughout the community.”
Heinrich’s lawyers filed their own position on sentencing, writing “we should at least recognize that he is a human being who feels remorse and over the past 27 years has shed countless tears for Jacob and his family.”
In response, the Wetterlings issued a statement, noting “not one tear was shed when he stood in the courtroom telling us what he did to Jacob.”
The sentencing will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Monday at the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis.