TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It is all the Morgart family can do to remember and honor Brenna Morgart's life. She was a friend, a daughter, a sister, whose life was cut short.
The man responsible received his punishment.
Family and friends spoke about the promising future that was taken when the 18-year-old was murdered on May 25, 2012.
Her accused killer, Dustin Leftwich sat, blankly staring ahead as judge Cheryl Rios Kingfisher outlined his future - life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He received an additional 27 years for six other charges.
Brenna was killed less than a week after graduating from Seaman High School. Prosecutors say she was out for a jog when Leftwich hit her with his car, shoved her in the trunk, then took her to a field off NW Huxman Road, where he hit her with a tire iron, attempted to rape her, then threw her face-down in a creek. Her official cause of death was drowning.
"The crimes that you have committed onto human beings were brutal," Kingfisher said. "And they are imaginable and they have struck the very core of our community."
More than twenty of Brenna's family and friends were at the sentencing, visibly emotional throughout.
Her sister Arianna spoke as well, painting a picture of the loving sister she had once planned weddings with. Brenna had wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, and always expressed to her family how she wanted a big family.
"This devastation has impacted so many aspects of our lives," Arianna said.
Despite their pain, Brenna's father Dennis offered insight to his daughter's murderer.
"We want Dustin to know we forgive him for what he did to our beautiful girl, our child of God, to all who knew and loved her," he said.
Leftwich will be moved to a state corrections facility, likely between March 13 and March 27 of 2013.
"In prison you will awaken each day with nothing to look forward to," Kingfisher said directly to Leftwich, "exept endless repetition, restriction, regimentation and isolation."
While the Morgart family must try to pick up the pieces, the sentencing was a step toward closure.
"This was really a community win, not just a win for the Morgarts," family pastor RD Cogswell said. "Everybody worked hard on this win."
In addition to charges related to Morgart's death, Leftwich also pleaded guilty to a separate attack a year earlier, where prosecutors say he attempted to run down a then 14-year-old girl. She managed to escape through a barbed wire fence.
By pleading guilty to capital murder, Leftwich avoided facing a jury. Under Kansas Law, only a jury can recommend the death penalty - a judge cannot issue the sentence on his or her own.
13's Sarah Plake was in court for Friday's sentencing. She will have reaction on 13 News at 5 and 6 and here on wibw.com.
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