Pinedale Online!

Pinedale on the Web!
Pinedale, Wyoming

Home | Calendar of Events | Photo Gallery | Local Businesses |

Pinedale Online > News > February 2015 > Brian McDonald sentenced to 50-70 years in prison for Attempted Murder

Brian James McDonald. Photo by Sublette County Sheriff's Office.
Brian James McDonald
Sentenced to three counts of Attempted Murder in the 2nd Degree. He pled guilty to attacking and beating three Pinedale women. He will serve three 50-70 year prison terms, to be served concurrently. Photo courtesy Sublette County Sheriff's Office.
Brian McDonald sentenced to 50-70 years in prison for Attempted Murder
Solves cases of serial brutal attacks against three Pinedale women
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
February 4, 2015

In July, 2010 a man entered a Pinedale woman’s home at night as she slept, picked up a dumbbell weight he found near her room, and then brutally struck her in the head repeatedly. Miraculously, the young woman somehow survived the attack, but was severely injured, her life forever changed. The perpetrator escaped into the night. That began a four-year hunt for an unknown assailant who would lash out in two more vicious night-time attacks in the community on single women sleeping in their residences.

In October, 2012 another woman was brutally beaten in the head as she slept. This time the assailant’s weapon of choice was a hard rock. The woman’s three-year old daughter was nearby, but was left unharmed.

In May, 2014, the serial assailant struck once again. Carrying a baseball bat, he entered a third woman’s residence, crept up the dark, narrow stairwell into her bedroom, and beat her viciously in the head, face and upper body, cracking her skull and breaking many of her bones. She awoke and somehow got up and yelled at him, and he fled the scene dropping the baseball bat that had broken in two from the force of striking her body. Once outside, the assailant tripped over a barbeque grill as he scrambled away in the dark, cutting his head, and leaving blood remains at the scene.

With the community on edge and on the lookout, a report was made by a UPS delivery driver in regards to a wound that a man named Brian McDonald had sustained under what seemed to be suspicious circumstances. Following up on the lead, investigators from the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office asked McDonald for a voluntary DNA sample, to which he agreed. DNA found on-scene from the separate attacks matched the sample provided by McDonald, leading to his arrest and subsequent charges in July of 2014.

McDonald was originally charged with just the attack on the first woman victim, but those charges were later dismissed and new charges filed to include all three women’s cases. "There were no signs of sexual assault in any of the three attacks, and it appears that the only motive was to kill the sleeping and defenseless victims," Sublette County Detective Lance A. Gehlhausen wrote in a statement in support of the charges. McDonald initially pled not guilty and a jury trial was scheduled for January 2015. Before the trail began however, a plea agreement was negotiated with the Sublette County Attorney’s office. In exchange for pleading guilty to three counts of Attempted Murder in the 2nd Degree, the 12 other charges against him would be dismissed with prejudice.

On Tuesday, February 3rd, McDonald appeared in District Court in Pinedale at his sentencing hearing. His three victims, their friends and family members, and many members of the community attended. District Court Judge Marvin Tyler presided, listening to statements from the Prosecuting Attorney, each of the three assault victims, the Public Defender, and finally McDonald. Judge Tyler ultimately accepted the plea agreement and guilty plea from Brian McDonald for three counts of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree. McDonald was sentenced to three, 50-70-year prison terms to be served concurrently. He was ordered to pay over $99,000 in restitution to his victims, court and legal fees, and crime victim assessments for the assaults.

Prosecuting Attorney Neal Stelting said McDonald provided information to his satisfaction related to these three crimes as well as information that solved and resolved some other outstanding crimes. As part of the plea agreement, the State agreed to not use any of the additional information against him. McDonald agreed to not file a request for a sentence reduction.

Stelting said there was never a moment when work wasn’t being done on these cases. He thanked the law enforcement officers who dedicated so much time and effort for the four years working to solve these crimes. "The agreement assures that Mr. McDonald will never have the opportunity to do this again," Stelting said. "I don’t know what drives Mr. McDonald. I’m not sure Mr. McDonald knows what drives Mr. McDonald. He doesn’t know why he did what he did. He says he is not a criminal, but I cannot think what would be more criminal than violently attacking three women in their home." Stelting said he didn’t believe rehabilitation was possible, and their agreement was intended to make sure McDonald never had the opportunity to commit such a crime again. He said he owed the victims a debt of gratitude for staying vested in the case since the beginning, and to the community for their vigilence to bring Mr. McDonald to justice. He said there were three additional victims to this man's actions, his wife and their two young children.

All three victims made statements to the court, confronting their attacker and his brutality. The first victim said she has had to deal with huge medical expenses, possible long-term brain damage, loss of memory, neck surgery, loss of her hearing, and post-traumatic stress because of the "house of terror" McDonald created in her life. She said he tore her family apart while he walked free for four years. She refuted his claims that he didn’t know his victims and his attacks were random, saying he rented a house from the business in which she worked, "you came in, paid rent, and looked me in the face." She told him, "You really are a sick individual and I’m glad you will be taken off the street." She is finding healing now by helping others.

The second victim told him, "I spent a lot of time hating you, wishing I could return the favor of a rock to the skull." Prison was a good place for him, she said.

The third victim said "this vicious crime has forever changed my life." She described how she woke up to the sound of her bones breaking and feeling blood flow down her face. She said he committed his crimes at night attacking sleeping defenseless women, and there should be no mercy, no sympathy and no leniency for someone with such cruel intentions. It was only a matter of when that he would commit another heinous crime.

McDonald’s public defender, Elisabeth Trefonas said her client asked her not to make any excuses for him. Recounting his sad childhood and history of drug use, she said a lot of people come from bad places, but that doesn’t lead to the chair that he was sitting in now.

Brian McDonald spoke last and said he knew sorry didn’t even begin to make up for what he had done.

After everyone had been given an opportunity to speak, Judge Tyler said Brian James McDonald demonstrated extreme indifference to human life. The Judge went through all three of the counts in the plea agreement and accepted the three guilty pleas to Attempted Murder in the 2nd Degree. He sentenced McDonald to not more than 70 and not less than 50 years for each of the three counts, to be served concurrently. 208 days were subtracted out for pre-sentence incarceration time already served in jail. He was recommended to undergo substance abuse treatment while in prison.

McDonald was ordered to pay restitution of $81,417.29 to the first victim, in addition to $8,456 in fees and court costs on that count. In the second count he was ordered to pay $1,445 in fees, crime victim assessment and victim services. In the third case he was ordered to pay $7,258.52 restitution to the victim, with additional court fees. The Judge said McDonald had 30 days from the date of filing of the judgment and sentencing document to appeal.

Prosecuting Attorney Neal Stelting said, "Mr. McDonald will never be released from custody for as long as his natural life, and I believe that is justice."

Related Links:
McDonald changes plea to Guilty to attacks on 3 Pinedale women - November 21, 2014
McDonald case to go to trial - August 6, 2014
McDonald bound over for further court proceedings- July 22, 2014
Preliminary Hearing held for Brian McDonald - July 22, 2014
Suspect charged with five counts related to 2010 attack on Pinedale woman - July 14, 2014
Arrest made in 2010 assault case - July 11, 2014
$10,000 Reward offered for info about May 28th violent attack - June 3, 2014
Assailant still at large in attack on Pinedale woman - May 28, 2014
Assault reported in Pinedale - October 25, 2012
$10,000 Reward for July 25 Assault - August 5, 2010
Pinedale woman assaulted in her home - July 26, 2010

Pinedale Online > News > February 2015 > Brian McDonald sentenced to 50-70 years in prison for Attempted Murder

Pinedale Online!
Pinedale Online! PO Box 2250, Pinedale, WY 82941
Phone: (307) 360-7689 , Fax: (307) 367-2864

Office Outlet in Pinedale, 43 S. Sublette

Copyright © 2015 Pinedale Online. All rights reserved.
Pictures and content cannot be used in whole or part without permission.