Hat tip to The Herald (Sharon, PA):
Scott A. Dunn admitted Wednesday to beating his wife Brandon “Brandi” C. Dunn to death with a hammer and setting fire to his in-law’s Grove City home to cover up the crime.
Dunn, 28, of 469 Branchton Road, Slippery Rock, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, two counts of arson and abuse of a corpse five days before jury selection was set to begin for his trial.
Charges of first- and third-degree murder, criminal homicide and one count of arson in the case were dropped. Manslaughter means the killing wasn’t premeditated, but that Dunn meant to hurt his wife.
Dunn killed his wife in a rage, Mercer County District Attorney James P. Epstein said.
Sadly, Dunn will only be sentenced for a short period of time - 26 to 52 years is the maximum range. Even worse, the judge could opt to sentence Dunn for even less.
When the DA took the death penalty off the table, it was a clear sign that there was not going to be a high price for the crime. With the death penalty, the defendant can plead to a lesser term: life in prison. When the death penalty is taken away, the next step down is a plea for 25 years...which is what happened.
Through his attorney (Stephen Misko), Dunn gave this account of the crime:
The newlyweds argued early Jan. 14, 2006, over their respective vices — cocaine for him, alcohol for her — when Mrs. Dunn, after a night of partying, returned to her parents house at 109 E. Washington Blvd., where the couple was house-sitting.
The fight, which began in the family room and spilled into the foyer where Mrs. Dunn’s body was found, got physical when Mrs. Dunn hit her husband in the mid-section with an empty beer bottle, after which he punched her in the face, Misko said. She pushed and hit Dunn, who picked up a hammer and hit her multiple times in the head.
When Dunn saw blood coming from his wife’s head, he panicked, Misko said.
Dunn went to the shed behind the house to hide the murder weapon, which state police never found, and saw a 5-gallon gas can, Misko said. Dunn poured the gasoline at several spots in the house, including on Mrs. Dunn’s body, and lit them on fire.
Misko said Dunn had enough time before he called 911 to figure out what he was going to say. He told police he came upon a male intruder who was beating his wife and chased the intruder out of the house before returning to find it in flames.
Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas R. Dobson will hand down Dunn's sentence on Aug. 9.