Woman sentenced for burglary connected to 2013 fatal shooting

2014-04-18T11:30:00Z 2014-04-18T23:37:20Z Woman sentenced for burglary connected to 2013 fatal shootingBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A Billings woman was sentenced on Friday after twice skipping sentencing hearings for a felony burglary conviction stemming from a 2013 incident that ended with the fatal shooting of her husband by police.

District Judge Ingrid Gustafson sentenced Heather Lynnae Brawley to five years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections, with two years suspended. She also ordered Brawley to pay $27,000 in restitution.

She was taken into custody after the sentencing.

“I believe that you are experiencing traumatic mental health problems,” Gustafson said. “... I think you need help.”

Before sentencing, Brawley told Gustafson that she has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the 2013 shooting death of her husband and feels victimized because officers who were present the day her husband died also arrested her in later incidents.

Last October, Brawley pleaded guilty to the felony burglary charge as part of a plea deal that included a joint recommendation of a five-year suspended sentence with the state Department of Corrections as long as she was accepted to a treatment program.

A county prosecutor recommended a full five-year sentence on Friday, saying Brawley did not meet the plea deal’s conditions.

Brawley, 26, was initially arrested on Jan. 6 2013, with her husband, Daniel Brawley, after they broke into a house on Miles Avenue.

An hourslong standoff and negotiations with Billings police appeared to end peacefully when officers led the couple handcuffed out of the house.

However, Officer David Punt fatally shot Daniel Brawley minutes later after he managed to slip out of his restraints and climb into the driver’s seat of Punt’s patrol car. The car struck Punt, who shot Daniel Brawley as he tried to drive away.

A coroner’s inquest later cleared Punt in the shooting.

Heather Brawley twice skipped sentencing hearings for her role in the burglary and was most recently arrested on a bench warrant in February.

Yellowstone County prosecutors are still deciding whether or not to charge Brawley with bail jumping in relation to missing the previous sentencing hearings.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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