SHERIDAN — A man serving life without parole in a Sheridan home-invasion killing will be eligible for parole after 35 years, a district judge ruled this week.
Judge John Fenn on Thursday sentenced Dharminder Sen, 20, to serve life according to the law on a conviction of first-degree murder. If Sen is paroled after serving at least 35 years on the murder conviction, he would then begin serving another sentence of 20 to 25 years on an aggravated burglary conviction.
Sen and two other teens were convicted of killing Robert Ernst in 2009. Authorities say Sen was 15 when he shot and killed Ernst. All three teens were convicted of murder and received life sentences.
Fenn resentenced Sen in response to rules the U.S. Supreme Court recently adopted for juveniles that required judges to consider alternatives to sentences of life without parole.
Wyatt Bear Cloud, who was 16, was resentenced last year in response to the new Supreme Court rules and could be freed after
35 years. He’s appealing his sentence in the Wyoming Supreme court.
Dennis Poitra Jr., who was 18, also is seeking a sentence reduction.
Ernst’s family asked Fenn on Thursday to impose the maximum possible punishment against Sen.
Bill Hines, the brother of Ernst’s widow, said the victim’s relatives have been sentenced to a life of misery and undue punishment.
Hines asked Fenn to tell the warden of the state penitentiary not to allow Sen to have time off for good behavior and to require him to serve his time in solitary confinement. “As a former correctional officer, I can tell you it’s for his own good,” Hines said.
Sen’s mother, Audrey Borgheiinck, and other relatives testified on his behalf.
“There was a lot of brokenness in his life because of other people, and he didn’t know how to process it and how to deal with it,” said Borgheiinck, who was 16 when Sen was born.
Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle recommended Fenn again impose a life sentence against Sen.
“Probably the most tragic part of this case is the fact that when we look at the defendant’s background, there is nothing about it that surprises us with this culmination point,” Redle said in closing arguments. “If we were going to draw up a scenario that would take a young boy to early adolescence and then to the penitentiary, it would look very similar to the testimony that we heard today.”
Before Fenn announced his sentence, Sen approached the courtroom podium and addressed the court.
“I’m sorry that I’m the reason everyone is here today,” Sen said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the heinous crime I committed.”