A woman who participated in the beating death and dismemberment of her boyfriend was sentenced to 40 years at the Montana Women's Prison on Wednesday.
Judge Michael Moses sentenced Carri Elizabeth Standsoverbull, 41, to 60 years in prison with 20 suspended in the death of Jeffrey Hewitt. She will also be required to pay a $5,000 fine and roughly $5,500 in restitution. Standsoverbull will be eligible for parole after 10 years.
The sentence was what Deputy County Attorney Ed Zink had recommended. Defense attorney Roberta Drew had recommended 50 years with 20 suspended. Sixty years was the maximum allowed by state law for the four charges: negligent homicide, aggravated assault by accountability and two counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
In early 2015, Hewitt was beaten, likely by several people, and left in Standsoverbull's apartment with severe injuries, court documents state. Documents named at least four others who may have been involved in the beatings. Law enforcement officers and representatives from Child Protective Services visited Standsoverbull’s apartment while Hewitt was still alive, investigators say, but Standsoverbull did not allow them to intervene and take Hewitt to a hospital.
After Hewitt died, the victim was put in the back of an SUV and taken to a secluded drainage. Using a chainsaw and ax, Standsoverbull and others took apart Hewitt's body and then tried to burn the body parts, charges state.
During an hour-long sentencing hearing Wednesday morning, the mother, sister and teenage daughter of the victim spoke, characterizing him as a hard-working family man who was dedicated to his kids and quick to help others in need.
Hewitt’s daughter said she learned of her father’s death when FBI agents came to her home in California looking for him. They wouldn’t say why initially, but later returned and told her he had died.
“Everything around me that involved fathers and parents, it just made it worse,” Hewitt’s daughter said, adding that she’d had trouble being around other people, including her own family, and would never get to have her father walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.
Hewitt’s mother said she was unable to give her son a normal funeral and would never get to hear from him again on her birthday, or Mother’s Day. She misses him, her only son and first-born child, and struggled after learning how much he had suffered before dying.
“I really don’t understand how someone could do this to him,” she said. “There were so many other things that could have been done than to choose this manner of death for him.”
Hewitt’s mother and daughter said they wished well for Standsoverbull’s family and would pray for them.
Zink, the prosecutor, said officials would likely never learn exactly what happened leading up to Hewitt’s death, but that Standsoverbull initiated the violence.
“The acts described in the police reports that we read are a level of cruelty and depravity that is rarely seen,” Zink said, fighting back tears. “And this morning I think in response we see dignity from surviving family and a strength that will serve them well going forward.”
Drew, the defense attorney, said that previously, Standsoverbull had been a faithful mother and family woman, and had enjoyed helping others through her work at the YWCA and the Mental Health Center. But Standsoverbull had suffered long-term, serious abuse by her ex-husband — a different man from Hewitt — and after divorcing him, “as so often happens,” had delved into substance abuse.
“I grieve for the family (member) who asked the question why, because I simply cannot provide that answer,” she said. “And nor can Carri.”
Standsoverbull's criminal history is minimal, with mostly alcohol-related misdemeanors.
Moses, the judge, said Standsoverbull's chemical dependency got her where she is today and needed to be addressed. He added that he was glad Standsoverbull had "rediscovered prayer."
"Don't ever lose it again," he said.
In a tearful statement to the court, Standsoverbull apologized to Hewitt’s family and said she, too, wanted justice for him.
“Words can’t explain how sorry I am for everything that happened,” she said.
Standsoverbull said she never intended for Hewitt to die the way he did.
“I thought I was protecting myself and my kids,” she said.
Patrick Saint Standsoverbull III, Carri’s brother, has also been charged in the case, recently pleading guilty to two felony counts of evidence tampering and one count of misdemeanor assault. A sentencing date has not yet been set.