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Alaska woman sentenced to 99 years in murder-for-hire killing of friend

Father of murdered Alaska teen speaks out
Father of murdered Alaska teen: "My daughter trusted these people" 03:15

Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, one of two young people charged in the 2019 killing of Alaska teenager Cynthia Hoffman in a murder-for-hire scheme, was sentenced to 99 years in prison on Monday.

Court documents showed that Brehmer, then 18, struck up an online relationship with 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller, who was living in Indiana. Schilmiller claimed to be a millionaire and said he would send Brehmer $9 million in exchange for photos and videos of a killing. He did not name a target.

Brehmer allegedly offered four other friends a cut of the money if they helped her, CBS News previously reported, and Brehmer and then-16-year-old Kayden McIntosh allegedly lured Hoffman on a hike. During the hike, Hoffman was shot in the back of the head and put into a river. Police found Hoffman's body one day after she was reported missing. McIntosh's trial in the case is pending.

Brehmer, now 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February 2023 after charges of conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation of murder, tampering with evidence, and murder in the second degree were dismissed. Nearly a year later, her sentencing occurred over three days in January and February 2024. The 99-year sentence was the maximum penalty the court was permitted to impose, according to a news release from Alaska's Department of Law.

Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a courtroom for an arraignment hearing in Anchorage, Alaska, June 18, 2019.
Denali Brehmer, 18, appears in a courtroom for an arraignment hearing in Anchorage, Alaska, June 18, 2019. Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson called Hoffman's murder "tragic and senseless" and noted that Brehmer showed no remorse after the murder and went on to engage in other criminal conduct at Schilmiller's request. 

According to the U.S. Justice Department, Schilmiller and Brehmer also conspired to coerce a minor to produce sexually explicit images. Last summer, the two pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to produce child pornography.

In January, Schilmiller was sentenced to 99 years in prison by Peterson for his role in the murder after being extradited to Alaska.

Caleb Leyland, another friend involved in the murder-for-hire scheme, pleaded guilty to one charge of second-degree murder in November, after charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder were dismissed. His sentencing is scheduled for June in front of the same judge who sentenced Brehmer.

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