Retired Marine sentenced for killing girlfriend

Posted at 2:10 PM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 23:11:23-04

A retired Camp Pendleton Marine, who stabbed his girlfriend in the back in Panama, dismembered her with a machete and placed the body parts in a military-style backpack that he hid in a remote jungle area, was sentenced Wednesday to 26 years in federal prison.

Brian Karl Brimager, 40, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder in the death of Yvonne Baldelli, who's believed to have been killed on or around Nov. 27, 2011.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Brimager killed the 42-year-old Baldelli in a "savage and vicious way," throwing her remains into the jungle like trash.

The sentencing brought some sense of closure for Baldelli's family, who have waited more than four years for justice, Duffy said.

"The day of reckoning has come for Brian Brimager," she said. "Not only did he show a callous disregard for Yvonne Baldelli's life by viciously beating, stabbing, dismembering and dumping her in the jungle, but his words and actions in the hours, days and months following his horrendous crime exhibited an extreme lack of remorse. He stole a precious daughter, sister, aunt and friend, and now he is paying the price."

Baldelli's father, James Foust, said in court, "He destroyed not only Yvonne, he destroyed the family in many, many ways, and he deserves to be punished severely and have every day, the rest of his life, to think about what he did and the damage he's done to the rest of the family."

After the killing, Brimager obstructed the investigation into Baldelli's murder by disposing of evidence, including a blood-stained mattress, her dog, and clothes and jewelry, according to his plea agreement.

In a social media post about the sale of the machete he used to sever Baldelli's limbs, Brimager joked, "I only dismembered one stripper with it. It's hardly used."

Brimager also sent fake emails from Baldelli's account to her friends and family after her death, in which he pretended to be her, and withdrew money from her bank account in Costa Rica and made false statements to a federal agent investigating her disappearance to make it appear as though she was still alive and traveling with another man, the plea agreement states.

Brimager and Baldelli moved together from Los Angeles to the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama, in September 2011, and rented a room in a five-unit hostel on Isla Carenero, a small island near Bocas reachable only by boat.

Almost immediately upon arrival, Brimager started emailing another girlfriend -- the mother of his young daughter -- and discussed plans to move back to California to live with the woman and help raise their daughter, according to court papers. The emails did not mention Baldelli.

At the same time he was emailing the other girlfriend, Brimager began physically abusing Baldelli, causing injuries that included bruising on her arms and around her eyes. After murdering her, Brimager dismembered Baldelli's body and disposed of the parts in a remote jungle area on Isla Carenero, court documents state.

Within hours of killing Baldelli and prior to dumping the mattress in the ocean, Brimager conducted two Internet searches on her computer, one for "washing mattress" and a second for "washing mattress blood stain," according to the indictment.

Baldelli's skeletal remains were found in the jungle almost two years later.

"They weren't married, they had no community property; he could have just got up and walked away and that would be the end of it," Foust said.

Baldelli's sister, Michelle Foust, added, "He's a murderer. He killed my sister, he was torturing her before that … He is a trained Marine. He is a shame to the Marine Corps. We have family and friends that are Marines, and he is a shame to the Marine Corps."