By Kristina Pritchett
An ex-Marine was sentenced to 26 years in prison Wednesday for killing his girlfriend, a former Dana Point resident, in Panama.
Retired Marine Brian Karl Brimager, from San Diego, entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder of 42-year-old Yvonne Lee Baldelli, a former Dana Point resident.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brimager killed and dismembered Baldelli, and dumped her remains in the jungle. A local Panama resident found the remains in duffle bags 21 months later.
Day after Brimager killed Baldelli, he accessed her bank account and used the money to buy rounds of drinks for friends at the bar, according to court documents.
Brimager pleaded guilty on Feb. 24 to foreign murder of a United States National. In his guilty plea, he admitted that he obstructed the investigation into her murder by destroying, concealing and disposing of evidence.
During the sentence hearing, prosecutors argued the circumstances of the crime, including the mutilation of the body and his attempts to convince family members that Baldelli was still alive, amounted to “extreme conduct,” according to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Prosecutors told the court there were eight witnesses in Panama who saw Brimager beating, punching, choking and threatening to kill Baldelli. Evidence showed Brimager broke Baldelli’s nose, teeth and stabbed her multiple times.
“The day of reckoning has come for Brian Brimager,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a statement. “Not only did he show a callous disregard for Yvonne Baldelli’s life by viciously beating, stabbing, dismembering and dumping her in the jungle, but his words and actions in the hours, days and months following his horrendous crime exhibited an extreme lack of remorse.”
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller also ordered Brimager to pay $11,132 in restitution to Baldelli’s father and a $10,000 fine.
“This murder was a particularly cruel and depraved,” Miller said in a statement. “The lengths Mr. Brimager went to to avoid detection were particularly brazen and ultimately shattering to the Baldelli family. I dare say they will never recover.”