A Fargo, North Dakota, woman was sentenced on Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for her part in the grisly death of a pregnant neighbor, who was killed after her baby was removed from her womb, according to multiple news outlets.
At the afternoon hearing for Brooke Crews, prosecutors reportedly shed light on the final moments in the life of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old who had dreamed of becoming a registered nurse and who was eight-months pregnant when she was killed in August.
Miraculously, her child survived the attack with minimal physical trauma. The baby is now in the custody of her father, who was LaFontaine-Greywind’s boyfriend.
The details released in court on Friday were the first significant new information in months in a case that has made international headlines.
According to the Associated Press, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and local TV station KVLY, prosecutors said at the sentencing that Crews, 38, admitted she cut LaFontaine-Greywind’s infant daughter out of her body in a kind of crude caesarean section not long after luring the younger woman on Aug. 19 to her third-floor apartment in the building where they both lived.
LaFontaine-Greywind was still alive, going in and out of consciousness, as Crews removed her child from the womb, prosecutors said, the AP and the Forum report.
Prosecutors said that Crews admitted she “did cut [LaFontaine-Greywind] and then I took her baby out of her.” She was described as “cold-blooded,” KVLY reports.
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Crews did not specify when Lafontaine-Greywind died, according to the Forum.
Ashton Matheny, LaFontaine-Greywind’s longtime boyfriend and the father of her child, 5-month-old Haisley Jo, told PEOPLE in December that he feared Crews had cut their daughter out of LaFontaine-Greywind.
His suspicions were confirmed on Friday. “Right now my mind’s kind of paralyzed,” he told reporters after the hearing. “[I] don’t know how to process it honestly. I don’t think I ever will, because they took the love of my life away. She [Crews] stripped my future away from me.”
Crews was found with LaFontaine-Greywind’s daughter in Crews’ apartment on Aug. 24, leading to her arrest, as authorities still searched for the missing woman.
Eight days after vanishing — and three days after Crews and her live-in boyfriend, William Hoehn, were taken into custody — LaFontaine-Greywind’s body was found wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the Red River in Fargo.
Matheny, 22, had to leave the courtroom when Crews began speaking during Friday’s hearing, a source tells PEOPLE. He attended the sentencing with Haisley Jo.
Dressed in red to honor murdered and missing indigenous women — LaFontaine-Greywind was Native American — her friends and family were also in court.
Before she was sentenced, Crews apologized to LaFontaine-Greywind’s family. “I’m just really, really, really sorry,” she said, according to the Forum. “I wish I could take their pain. I wish I hadn’t done this. There is no excuse. There is no rationalization. There is nothing. I know it doesn’t help, but I am sorry.”
Crews’ attorney, Steven Mottinger, declined to comment to PEOPLE, but he had asked for his client to be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, the AP reports.
“Acceptance of responsibility is important,” Mottinger said. “It has to mean something.”
LaFontaine-Greywind’s mother, Norberta Greywind, also addressed the court, saying their family had to move from Fargo after her daughter’s slaying.
“I miss her laugh. I miss her so much,” she reportedly said. “My heart is literally broken. I find myself looking through pictures and videos. Brooke Crews befriended us. She was monitoring our daily routine. I still have nightmares. I cannot accept that someone had done this to my daughter. For someone to do this to another human is beyond evil.”
“The pain and void my granddaughter will have to carry for the rest of her life breaks my heart,” Greywind said. “Haisley will never feel that love from her mother.”
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Crews pleaded guilty on Dec. 11 to three charges: conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and giving false information to the police. She had not reached a deal with prosecutors but changed her plea, her attorney said at the time, in hopes of getting a more favorable sentence.
Crews’ boyfriend, the 32-year-old Hoehn, was arrested on Aug. 24 on the same charges. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a May trial.
On Thursday, the day before Crews was sentenced, Matheny told PEOPLE he was apprehensive about attending the hearing: “I don’t know what I’m going to do or say or feel when I see Brooke in court.”
He said, “I am hoping for the best — and hoping for the worst for Brooke.”
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