An Alaska woman who orchestrated the murder of her best friend after being offered $9 million to do so has been sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, 23, covered her face as the verdict was read in Anchorage Superior Court on Monday.
He pleaded guilty last year to a charge of first-degree murder in the death of his friend, Cynthia Hoffman, 19, who was fatally shot on a riverbank in 2019.
Brehmer recruited four friends to help carry out the murder after a man he met online promised him a multimillion-dollar reward.
“She may not have pulled the trigger, but this would never have happened if it weren’t for Denali Brehmer,” Deputy District Attorney Patrick McKay said during Monday’s sentencing.
Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, 23, covered her face as she was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder of Cynthia Hoffman.
Brehmer pleaded guilty last year (pictured) to one count of first-degree murder.
Hoffman was only 19 years old at the time of his death. He met Brehmer in high school and told his parents that the other girl was his “best friend.”
According to court documents, Brehmer, then 18, met a man online who she believed was a Kansas millionaire named Tyler.
The man offered Brehmer at least $9 million to indiscriminately kill someone in exchange for photographs and videos of the murder.
However, according to the accusation, she was being “fished.” In reality, the man was 25-year-old Darin Schilmiller of Indiana.
Brehmer did not realize she had been deceived until after her arrest.
He enlisted the help of four friends, including two unidentified minors, to assist in the murder.
The prosecution identified Caleb Leyland and Kayden McIntosh, who were then 19 and 16 years old respectively. Despite her age, McIntosh was waived to appear in adult court.
The group targeted Hoffman, a developmentally disabled woman with the mental capacity of a seventh grader.
Hoffman’s family said she met Brehmer when they were both students at Service High School and described her as her “best friend.”
Darin Schilmiller, 25, posing as a millionaire named Tyler, offered Brehmer $9 million to carry out the murder in exchange for photos and videos.
Brehmer, then 19 years old, conspired with four other people to take the victim to a trail and bind his hands and feet with duct tape.
Hoffman, a woman with an intellectual disability and the mental capacity of a seventh-grade student, was shot in the back of the head and thrown into the Eklutna River.
On June 2, 2019, Brehmer and McIntosh borrowed Leyland’s car and took Huffman to Thunderbird Falls for a supposed hike.
Along the Eklutna River, the duo bound Hoffman’s hands and feet with duct tape before McIntosh fired a bullet into the back of his head. Then his body was thrown into the river.
Authorities said Brehmer texted Hoffman’s family to tell them she had been dropped off at a park. They burned the teen’s purse and other items, including the gun.
Leyland and McIntosh later confessed to their roles in planning and executing the murder. They told police they were each supposed to receive a portion of Schilmiller’s reward.
The Indiana man later admitted to selecting Hoffman as a victim and telling Brehmer to kill her, according to court documents.
He said Brehmer sent him photos and videos of Hoffman before and after his death via the messaging app Snapchat.
“The Court should find that Ms. Brehmer participated in one of the most serious crimes we have in Alaska,” McKay said Monday.
—She executed Cynthia Hoffman in a murder-for-hire plot. She conspired with many other people in and out of Alaska, including young people, forever altering everyone’s lives.
“She may not have pulled the trigger, but this would never have happened if it weren’t for Denali Brehmer.”
Kayden McIntosh, then 19, admitted to shooting Hoffman and was sentenced to 99 years suspended in January.
Caleb Leyland, then 16, admitted to lending Brehmer his car and helping plan the murder. His sentencing is scheduled for June 10.
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson Hoffman called Brehmer’s conduct “cold, calculated and taken to the extreme,” adding that she showed no remorse.
He described watching a video of Hoffman’s final moments and called it “one of the toughest tests I’ve ever had to watch in this position.”
Despite his young age at the time of the murder, Peterson said Brehmer knew what he was doing and that this was not simply a “youthful indiscretion.”
The state originally requested a 99-year non-suspended sentence and a “worst offender” determination.
Brehmer requested a sentence of 80 years with 20 years suspended. He was given a 99-year prison sentence after a three-day hearing.
Schilmiller pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 99 years in January with no suspension.
The 25-year-old also solicited Brehmer to obtain child pornography and pleaded guilty last year. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for March 4.
Leyland pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in November. His sentencing is scheduled for June 10, while McIntosh’s case is pending trial.