Brother, Sister Sentenced In Stepfather Murder

Brae Hansen And Nathaniel Gann Were Convicted Of Killing Timothy MacNeil

A young woman who hatched a plot to kill her stepfather in his Rolando home was sent Friday to prison for life without the possibility of parole, and her brother got a 25-year-to-life term for carrying out the slaying.

Brae Hansen, now 19, and 20-year-old Nathaniel Gann were both convicted of first-degree murder in the July 19, 2007, shooting death of Timothy MacNeil, a 63-year-old attorney.

Even though it was Gann who fired four bullets into the victim, Hansen was deemed more culpable. Jurors found true a special circumstance of lying in wait in her case.

Before handing down the sentences, Judge Frederick Link denied motions for new trials and to reduce the penalties.

"It's a tragedy -- two young people who do this to a loved one," the judge said. "These defendants created a lot of victims. It's sad. It's just sad."

Hansen's sister, Erin Ellison, told her younger sibling that she will miss her.

"I'm sorry you didn't have enough love in your life to know that this decision would never be worth it," Ellison said.

The day of the crime, Hansen, then 17, told police that a masked intruder surprised her and her stepfather and shot the victim four times, including a final shot to the back of the head.

Deputy District Attorney George Bennett said police initially treated Hansen as a victim but arrested her when her story fell apart. Gann, then 18, was arrested at his Arizona home the next day.

The prosecutor said Hansen was mad at her stepfather and wanted him dead and called her brother in Arizona to recruit him to help her.

"Brae Hansen started this whole thing in motion," the prosecutor told the judge Friday. "She couldn't have done it by herself."

Bennett said Hansen only cared about herself, has shown no remorse and "doesn't deserve a bit of leniency."

A tearful Hansen apologized for MacNeil's death.

"I miss my father very much," the defendant said. "I'm so, so sorry about everything that's happened. I'm sorry that I robbed the world of his goodness. I'm sorry that I disappointed so many people."

MacNeil's family members said Hansen stood to inherit half of her stepfather's estate and couldn't stand not being the center of attention.

The family believes Hansen promised Gann a cut of the inheritance.

The defendants' mother committed suicide a year before MacNeil was murdered.

The victim's girlfriend, Kim Bieda, said he must have been terrified as Gann was shooting him.

According to previous testimony, Hansen told police that her stepfather asked "Why are you killing me?" after the initially shots rang out.

"He shouldn't have died in this cruel and violent way," Bieda told the judge. "Tim's murder was a horrible, terrible and senseless tragedy."

To Gann, Bieda said, "You took Tim's life, and now you should pay with your own."

Bieda said MacNeil thought he was coming home to a birthday lunch when he was ambushed.

MacNeil's sister-in-law, Bonnie MacNeil, said the murder was not a spur-of-the-moment killing, but had been planned for days.

Her husband, Richard, said he struggles with feelings of hate and revenge for the defendants for killing his only brother.

"I will never forgive them, and hopefully somebody will forget that they ever existed," he said.

The judge said the evidence was "overwhelming" that Gann was guilty of killing MacNeil. He noted that a black ski mask found discarded near the crime scene had Gann's DNA on it, and the young man's DNA was also found on a gun located near the murder scene.

"I don't know why (it happened)," the judge said of the murder. "That is something that disturbs me terribly. I don't think anybody will ever understand."

Hansen's attorney, Troy Britt, unsuccessfully urged Link to grant a new trial, saying the cases should have been tried separately and not jointly with two juries.

Britt said Hansen started the plan to kill her stepfather, but tried to withdraw from it. When Gann arrived from Arizona, he told his sister the plan was going to proceed and threatened to kill Hansen if she tried to intervene, Britt said.

But Bennett said Hansen was mad at her stepfather because he had a new girlfriend and also because he would not give her some of her late mother's jewelry that she thought she deserved.

"She (Hansen) said, 'I'm not putting up with this. I'm killing the guy,'" the prosecutor told the judge.

Bieda told the court that a few months before MacNeil's death, Hansen told her, "You have no idea what I'm capable of."

"She murdered the man she called 'daddy' most of her life," Bieda said. "If she ever gets out of prison, I will be very afraid. I don't know where such evil comes from. And she is evil."