Denali Dakota Skye Brehmer, of Anchorage, now 24 years old, was sentenced by Anchorage Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson for the murder of Cynthia Hoffman near Thunderbird Falls in Chugiak. The murder was committed on June 2, 2019.
Brehmer had pleaded guilty a year ago to one count of Murder in the First Degree.
Hoffman, who thought Brehmer was a friend, was lured by Brehmer and other friends to the banks of the Eklutna River and shot near Thunderbird Falls. Then, Brehmer and the accomplices dumped her body into the river. Investigators later learned that Darin Schilmiller had solicited the murder of Hoffman from Brehmer.
Schilmiller also solicited child pornography from Brehmer, conduct that led to additional federal charges.
Brehmer’s sentencing occurred over three days. The court was permitted to sentence Brehmer to a sentence of active imprisonment between 30 and 99 years.
The State requested a sentence of 99 years with none suspended and a “worst offender” finding.
Brehmer requested a sentence of 80 years with 20 years suspended.
“The Court should find that Miss Brehmer engaged in one of the most serious crimes that we have in Alaska,” said Anchorage Assistant District Attorney Patrick McKay. “She executed Cynthia Hoffman in a murder-for-hire plot. She conspired with numerous other individuals in and outside of Alaska, including juveniles, forever altering everybody’s life. She may not have pulled the trigger, but this never would have happened it if it weren’t for Denali Brehmer.”
The murder of Hoffman was a premeditated, and was a murder-for-hire, Peterson said, calling Brehmer’s conduct “cold, calculated, and carried out to a ‘T’.”
Judge Peterson said he found that Brehmer’s conduct was among the most serious first-degree murder cases and among the most serious contract killing cases. Judge Peterson described watching a video of Cynthia Hoffman’s last moments where she was observed duct taped on the ground at Thunderbird Falls “…one of the most difficult pieces of evidence I’ve had to watch in this position.”
Judge Peterson said Brehmer showed no remorse after the murder and, in fact, went on to engage in other criminal conduct.
Although Brehmer was a youthful offender and “youth matters,” Peterson said Brehmer clearly knew what she was doing and that this was not merely “youthful indiscretion.”
Brehmer was sentenced to 99 years with none suspended and was found to be a “worst offender.”
Darin Schilmiller, of Indiana, was sentenced to 99 years with none suspended for his role in the murder.
Caleb Leyland’s sentencing is scheduled for June 10, 2024, in front of Judge Peterson.
Kayden McIntosh’s case is pending trial. McIntosh is the one who is accused of actually pulling the trigger on the weapon. He has had several court dates over the years.
This case was investigated by the Anchorage Police Department’s homicide unit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation based out of Alaska and Indiana, and the Indiana State Police. Brehmer is in the custody of the Alaska Department of Corrections.