York man gets 100-130 years in prison for killing his wife

YORK – Bart Beutler, 48, of York, has been sentenced to 100-130 years in prison – essentially the rest of his natural life – for killing his 46-year-old wife, Stacie Beutler.

His sentence came nine months to the day of the killing, which took place Jan. 30, at their home at 84 South Platte Avenue.

The York County District Courtroom was filled with people, ranging from Stacie Beutler’s family members, to members of the York Police Department and 911 dispatchers who were on duty the night of the murder.

According to court documents, Bart Beutler shot his wife 10 times, called 911 to report the situation, ran to his brother-in-law’s house where York police officers found him in blood-covered clothing and arrested him. He told investigators he didn’t know how many times he shot her, just that he emptied the clip until she was no longer “talking shit.”

A victim impact statement was read aloud by Stacie’s daughter, Emily, who was accompanied by her sisters, Abigail and Janie.

“Having Stacie as a mother made every flaw in life seem easier,” Emily said. “She always had a way of making us laugh. We didn’t always have much, but we had each other. She had a smile that captivated hearts and she (resonated) unconditional love. None of us were ready for the things to come with her relationship with Bart.”

She said Bart Beutler is a “narcissist” who manipulated and abused their mother. “He consistently quit jobs and the vulgar names he called her haunts us. Yet my mother believed in him and only wanted for him to succeed.”

Emily said she had a “gut feeling she was in danger. I told her how I felt, I told her I was afraid I’d never see her again, that was the last time I saw her and hugged her. I can still see her walking out the door, that last day. Then on Jan. 30, I called her three times but we were both busy. Then late that night, I got a call from my sister” who had to tell her Bart Buetler killed her mother.

“Part of my soul is still in the floor,” Emily said. “Her spirit was gone from the body that held us. The body that grew me and my sisters was cold.”

She talked about the gut-wrenching details of seeing her deceased mother, including “she had a bullet hole all the way through the palm of her hand, which means she was holding it up to protect herself against this coward holding a gun to her. I have dreams of trying to stop what happened, to step in front of all 10 bullets to keep them from hitting her. This man haunts us all. I can’t understand why this man did this. He shot her 10 times. I am speaking, in a room, with a man who did this and I do not forgive him. My words are not enough. But she was enough and she was taken away with an unfinished story. She died scared and fighting back. The minute he picked up that deadly weapon, he wanted her dead.”

Emily noted Bart Beutler has already served prison time for second degree murder, in Arizona.

“He is in this situation again because he can’t deal with life without resorting to lethal violence,” she continued. “We watch our family grow and try to imagine what it would be like to be with her. He needs to be in prison for the rest of his life.”

She looked directly at Bart Beutler and told him, “You will never win. Her love wins. We will live the rest of our lives in her honor and remember the 46 years she filled this world with love. We will hold onto her love forever.”

George Welch, special prosecutor from the Nebraska Attorney General’s office, told the court, “We have witnessed amazing courage in this courtroom, as her daughters confronted such an evil person.”

Welch noted the original charge of first-degree murder was amended, as part of a plea agreement, to second-degree murder. But he said it was not because the prosecution believed he should not be eligible for life in prison.

“We entered the agreement on the basis of the fact he’d be giving up a great deal of his appellate rights and this would prevent the family from enduring a gut-wrenching two-week trial,” Welch said. “We believe he should never step one foot out of a jail cell again. He inflicted horrible damage on someone he said he loved. He emptied a semi-automatic handgun into her, he said she was bothering him while he was trying to sleep. He says it was because he was intoxicated, but his blood alcohol level was not extraordinarily high and was below legal limits when tested later. We have an obligation to make sure society is protected.”

Welch stressed that Bart Beutler was a felon who was prohibited from possession any firearms, prior to the killing, “and yet found a way to have four firearms. He decided to shoot and kill someone he says he loved and got guns as a convicted felon – four of which were loaded and he had the opportunity to pick one up and fire. He’s exhausted his ability to say this won’t happen again, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity to repeat this again.

“I know he has the opportunity to speak his words, to this court, but I can tell you that is the last thing her family wants to hear,” Welch continued. “They do not want to hear his hollow, manipulative words and I will ask they be allowed to vacate the courtroom before he does.”

Welch referred to a series of text messages Bart Beutler sent to his wife, prior to her death, which he said indicate ongoing abuse “which show a pattern of behavior. We have never waivered from the fact he should never be outside of a prison wall again. He cannot be trusted to not have guns and having a trigger finger to act in this way. We are asking for him to spend his life in prison.”

Bart Beutler’s attorney, Matthew McDonald, called the situation “a tragic case. You have seen his letters to the court and they were given to the family. He wants to apologize. I ask the court to look at the facts of this case, in that he was under the influence and unfortunately things like this happen. It doesn’t excuse his actions. They had an argument, he was under the influence. He called 911 right away and he cooperated with the police. The only thing he’s asking is to be left out of prison before he dies. A sentence of 30-40 years would be more appropriate. He knows what he did was very wrong and he will pay the price for it. And out of respect for her daughters, he asks the court to consider his written letter and he will not be speaking to the court.”

Judge James Stecker reviewed the charges against him and his criminal history.

“You were a prohibited person who could not legally possess firearms, yet you did,” Judge Stecker said to Bart Beutler. “You were abusive to your wife. You took her life.”

Judge Stecker noted the defendant’s blood alcohol level was below the legal limit, when he was tested two hours after the murder.

“This caused profound trauma and loss for her daughters,” Judge Stecker said. “My one comment to the family is you have experienced profound loss, but I hope you can somehow find the help to heal” and not have their lives ruined “with bitterness.”

“No sentence will bring back your wife, their mother,” Judge Stecker continued. “It will not take away the family’s loss. Incarceration is necessary to protect society. There is no reason or excuse to justify the offense.”

Judge Stecker then handed down the sentence: a term of 60-80 years in prison for second degree murder and 40-50 years in prison for being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. The sentences will be served consecutively – one after the other.

 

 

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