BRECKENRIDGE - Former Silverthorne photographer Dale Bruner was sentenced Friday to 112 years in prison for the 2010 murder of his wife, Stephanie Roller Bruner.
Bruner, 50, was convicted in July of second-degree murder, for which he was assigned 48 years in prison and two counts of first-degree assault, which each carried a penalty of 32 years. He was also sentenced to 18 months in prison for each of three counts of tampering with physical evidence, to be served concurrently with the longer sentences.
Under state law, Bruner will be required to serve at least 75 percent of his sentence, a total of 84 years, before he is eligible for parole.
"Mr. Bruner you may believe that you lost something," Judge Mark Thompson said as he was delivering the sentence Friday. "But what you did that night was take something. You took Ms. Roller's life, you took your children's mother."
Roller Bruner's body was found in the Blue River near her home in November 2010, three days after Bruner reported her missing. She'd suffered blunt-force trauma and strangulation before she was dumped in the river where she died from a combination of her injuries, hypothermia and drowning, according to the coroner.
A grand jury indicted Bruner for the murder the following summer.
Roller Bruner filed for divorce from her husband shortly before her death.
The couple had three young children, who are now in the custody of their mother's family.
Bruner maintained the calm, emotionless demeanor he kept up through his trial at the sentencing hearing Friday, although he kept his attention trained on his wife's family and friends as they addressed the court.
Roller Bruner's sisters, sister-in-law, brother and closest friends talked about how her death has impacted their lives and the lives of her children.
"I will feel safer knowing he is in jail for a very long time, the maximum sentence," Roller Bruner's best friend Jennifer Voxakis said. "Because that's what he gave Stephanie, the maximum sentence. (He should) go to jail for the rest of his life because that's what he took from Stephanie."
At his attorney's advice, Bruner waived his right to make a statement to the court before his sentencing.
"My attorney has told me that I should not say anything at this time," he said.
While the judge was deliberating, however, Bruner appeared relaxed, talking and smiling with people on the defense side of the courtroom.
His attorney, Robert Bernhardt, pointed out that Bruner had no prior criminal history or arrest record during his final arguments at Friday's hearing.
Bernhardt said he didn't think criminal courts often saw evil people.
"Most of the time, what we see are good people who have made tragic mistakes," said Bernhardt, who also noted that Bruner is exercising his right to remain silent.
Bruner has spoken to the media since his conviction in July. Although the interviews have not yet aired, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert indicated he has maintained his innocence and pointed the finger at a man Roller Bruner was seeing prior to her death and the man's wife.
"Frankly, judge, silence would have been better than continuing the lies," Hurlbert said.
He said he does expect the defense to appeal.
It has not yet been determined where Bruner will serve his sentence.