MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Danny Heinrich was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday for possessing child pornography. The sentencing was a part of a plea deal Heinrich took in exchange for bringing police to Jacob Wetterling’s remains and confessing to his murder.
Prosecutors along with Patty and Jerry Wetterling agreed to the plea deal in September. In an emotional court room on Monday, Patty and Jerry Wetterling both shared their pain over nearly three decades.
“Words cannot express the pain… he hurt my heart, my soul and every fiber of my being when he murdered my son Jacob.” Patty said.
Twenty years was the maximum sentence Heinrich could be sentenced to serve.
Heinrich apologized to the Wetterlings in court, "I am truly sorry for my evil acts and the shame I brought myself and my family, heinous acts and selfishness are unforgivable for what I've taken away from you, I'm so sorry."
Jared Scheierl, who was sexually assaulted by Heinrich shared an emotional victim impact statement,
“I’ll have him know that I personally will be walking out at that time [when Heinrich speaks] you should know the words that he spoke to me that evening haunted me for years and I will choose not to hear anything he will say.”
“I would simply like to say to him, there’s nothing common about common sense...I just wish you had more common sense (glances over at Heinrich) and that being said I’ll step down.” Scheierl said.
Judge Tunheim told Heinrich he was giving him the most punishment he was allowed to give,
“I’m giving you the most severe punishment that is available to me. It is closure that you denied them for 27 long years. Every child knows the story of Jacob Wetterling, you stole the innocence of children’s lives in small towns, in the rural areas and the cities of Minnesota and beyond.” Judge Tunheim said.
Jacob Wetterling resource center statement
We pause to reflect on the joy and kindness Jacob brought to his family and many others. That spirit continues through the thousands of adults and children who honor Jacob by committing to live by the traits set in the “11 for Jacob” movement.
Today’s sentencing changes nothing for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center’s mission. There is much more work to do to address and prevent the abuse and exploitation of children. Today, our request is simple: Be fair. Be Kind. Be understanding. Be honest. Be thankful. Be a good sport. Be a good friend. Be joyful. Be generous. Be gentle with others. Be positive. We can all continue Jacob's Hope.