HOPKINS, Minn. (FOX 9) - The family of a woman killed in an apparent domestic homicide inside her Hopkins apartment over the summer stood in solidarity as her alleged killer appeared in court on murder charges. Danicka Bergeson’s loved ones, as many as two dozen, all wore the color purple, Danicka’s favorite and the color of Domestic Violence Awareness month which is October.
"It just shows how many people cared about Danicka, and how many people care about what is happening, and that we really deserve justice for Danicka," stated family friend Katie Peck.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has filed second-degree murder charges against Bergeson’s one-time boyfriend, Matthew Brenneman. Brenneman has a documented history of domestic abuse in the relationship, injuring Bergeson on multiple occasions. The Bergesons and their supporters made clear they wanted the full weight of the justice system coming down on Brenneman, stating their opposition to any plea deals.
"Absolutely, I would just like to have him own what he did," said David Bergeson, Danicka’s father.
"All she wanted to do was care for everybody else, make sure that everyone was safe and okay," explained Ariana Bergeson, Danicka’s sister. "It comes with having the biggest heart. And she just helped the wrong person or, you know, something happened. But we just want to make sure that we get justice."
Brenneman already stands convicted in a pair of domestic assault and threats cases involving Bergeson. In fact, he was scheduled to be sentenced on those matters on Monday, but they were delayed as his murder proceedings play out, and that case takes priority.
David Bergeson told FOX 9’s Paul Blume, "I think we just want to make sure that he stays incarcerated. I think that is our biggest thing."
Court records document the history of abuse in the couple’s relationship – biting, punching, choking, all leading up to Bergeson’s death this summer.
The Army medic and former Edina High School standout student-athlete was found dead in her Hopkins apartment just days after Brenneman was released from jail in connection to one of the prior domestic abuse cases.
Police arrived at a gruesome scene. Brenneman was there. He allegedly attempted to take his own life by drinking bleach. Despite the circumstantial evidence, the M.E. never determined a cause or the specific timing of Bergeson’s death. But she had abrasions and bruising, and was wrapped in blankets and a plastic garbage bag.
Brenneman’s defense team said in court, they were readying a motion to have the murder charges dismissed because of the uncertainty from the autopsy results with the Bergesons vowing to fight every step of the way.
Brenneman is due back in court on December 18. He will remain in jail as the murder case proceeds through the court system.