BENTON — Brian Pheasant, the Christopher man who was convicted earlier this year of murdering his wife in 2016, was sentenced on Friday to 67 years in prison.
A Franklin County jury this past May found Pheasant guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Beth Pheasant. She was 37. She was a nurse and a mother of six.
Brian Pheasant must serve 100 percent of his sentence. He's 46 years old now, meaning he'd be 113 years old before he would get out of prison.
Pheasant's ex-wife and children gave statements at the Friday hearing in Franklin County Court. Beth Pheasant's mother, Alice Wyskiel, submitted a written statement to the judge.
Trisha Pheasant, Brian Pheasant’s ex-wife, testified on his behalf during the two-week trial and gave a statement Friday praising Pheasant as a father. She said even after their divorce he was a regular fixture in his children’s lives and called them nightly to say good night and that he loved them.
She said even while being held in jail this is a ritual he has maintained.
Pheasant’s 17-year-old son tearfully read through a prepared statement before Judge Thomas Tedeschi.
“Thank you, dad,” he said. He said his father taught him a lot.
“I just wish people really knew how you were as a dad,” he read. “I know you really didn’t mean for this to happen.”
When he returned to the gallery, Pheasant's son doubled over on the bench and buried his head and silently wept.
“It’s OK, baby,” Trisha Pheasant said to her son, rubbing his back.
Pheasant’s daughter also said her father taught her a lot.
“He taught me how to be a strong, independent woman,” she told Tedeschi.
She then went on to read facts about mental illness and suicide — Brian Pheasant's defense had argued during trial that he was attempting to kill himself when he shot Beth Pheasant twice. Pheasant's daughter noted that this was suicide awareness week.
In a one-page statement, Alice Wyskiel, Beth’s mother, summed up the cavernous loss she feels as best she could.
CHRISTOPHER — Almost six weeks ago, Alice Wyskiel sat through what were arguably the hardest, longest two weeks of her life.
“I still cry about every day on my way to and from work. That’s my prayer time and my talk to Beth time,” Wyskiel wrote.
“Shelby (Eikelman) will remember the rest of her life hearing her mom’s last words, ‘Call 911 — Brian shot me,'” she said in her statement.
Brian Pheasant also made a brief statement of allocution in which he said that he did not get a chance during the trial to talk much and say what he thought needed to be said.
“Then one day my world came crashing down,” Pheasant said of the day he found out his wife had been having an affair and the two would be getting a divorce.
“This led to a tragic accident,” Pheasant told the court. “Not a day goes by I don’t blame myself.”
Before announcing his sentence, Tedeschi said that in these cases “there is no winner ... everybody’s lost.”
He addressed Pheasant’s children.
“You love your dad and that’s wonderful,” Tedeschi said. “You still have a dad to love, he’s just in orange.” He said he was thankful they shared their fond memories of their dad and that he will forever wonder how this “Brady Bunch” of a family will be doing in the wake of the tragedy.
"I’m sad for everyone involved," the judge said.
When the sentence was handed down — 42 years for the murder conviction and 25 years on a firearm enhancement — Pheasant said nothing. His family sat silent as well, some with tears streaking their cheeks.
Others in the gallery sniffled through quiet sobs, and when the hearing concluded both families went their separate ways. Tedeschi’s words during sentencing seemed to ring true.
“There is no closure. There will never be any closure,” he said.