PONTIAC, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) — A Michigan man was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday for strangling his girlfriend, cutting up her body and storing the parts in several rooms of her house.
William Dhondt, 29, of Farmington, Mich., apologized to those in the Oakland County Circuit courtroom as he stood shackled in orange jail garb awaiting his sentence on first-degree murder charges.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry to the friends and family of Kaitlin," Dhondt said. "All I can say is that I'm sorry."
A jury convicted Dhondt last month in the strangulation death of Kaitlin Hehir, 29. Prosecutors told jurors the two fought on the night of Feb. 23, 2013, then Dhondt put his hands on her neck, choking her to death.
For several hours, Dhondt, a restaurant worker, dismembered Hehir's body with an X-Acto knife and reciprocating power saw in the basement of her Farmington home, which he shared with her. Afterward, he put body parts in various containers, including a Home Depot box and baggies.
Friday morning, Hehir's father said the family was struggling with forgiveness.
"She was not the body. She was not it. She was not a piece of salmon. She was not a pot roast," Joe Hehir told the judge. "He obviously had evil in his heart. Clearly, his actions confirmed the true nature of his character," adding that Dhondt's actions "broke our hearts and make it almost impossible to forgive."
Dhondt's lawyer, Judith Gracey, said her client had no prior history of violence and acted out of panic.
"Mr. Dhondt just snapped," Gracey told the court. "And after, that it was very tragic."
Judge Phyllis McMillen of Oakland County Circuit Court already had said that she would provide counseling for the jurors because of the brutality of the crime.