Judge denies woman convicted of murder an early end to probation

Posted Friday, Sep. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A woman convicted of murder in the death of her husband must continue to serve 10 years probation, the sentence assessed by a Tarrant County jury in 2009, state District Judge Louis Sturns ruled Thursday.

Jennifer Brinkman, 35, argued that she has complied with the conditions of her probation and beat her methamphetamine habit, but that was not enough to persuade Sturns to knock more than six years off her sentence.

Her attorney, Mark Daniel, presented evidence that Brinkman is engaged and planning a wedding while taking care of her two children, her fiance’s two children and holding down a job.

“It was a travesty that Jennifer Brinkman was ever arrested,” Daniel said Thursday. “What she’s done is actually a success story. She was smothered in drugs by her husband. She did her community service and everything she was supposed to do. We’re asking you to close a really dark chapter in her life.”

There was no dispute that Jennifer Brinkman fired the gun that killed her husband, Brian Brinkman, on Dec. 30, 2006. But Daniel argued for acquittal at her 2009 trial, saying that she was an abused wife who acted in self-defense against a violent man who attacked her in a drug-fueled rage and raped her.

The jury rejected Jennifer Brinkman’s self-defense claim and convicted her of murder and then sentenced her to 10 years on probation. The maximum sentence on a murder charge is life in prison.

Less than a year after the shooting, Texas lawmakers removed the possibility of probation from a murder conviction, said Sean Colston, who prosecuted Brinkman in 2009 and represented the state on Thursday.

At Brinkman’s trial, after two weeks of testimony regarding her guilt or innocence, the sentencing phase was crammed into one day. Daniel called about 30 witnesses who portrayed Brinkman as a caring mom who kept her 7-year-old twins, Lexie and Lance, active in swimming and gymnastics competitions.

Daniel’s last witnesses were the twins themselves, who begged the jury not to send their mother to prison. Before they left the stand, each turned to the jury and said, “I want my mommy, I need my mommy, please don’t take her away from me.”

Colston said that he looked at this case and saw a murder, a grand jury looked at the case and saw a murder, and a jury looked at the case and saw a murder and convicted her.

Then, Colston said, “She was so shameless she brought in those two twins to beg for her probation. Now, the law does not allow you to get probation on murder cases. When juries sentence someone to probation, that should be what they serve.”

Jennifer Brinkman’s father-in-law told the jury that he was disappointed with the sentence and often finds himself defending his son’s reputation.

“I had to pull the plug at the hospital,” Edward Brinkman said. “Sometimes I ask myself if I did it too soon. I occasionally read about people who come out of comas.

“Is Jennifer my daughter-in-law? She killed my son. As an alternative to 10 years in prison, she got 10 years probation. What a lucky woman she is.”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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