The jury took about 4 and a half hours to reach its verdict.
Wyngarden, 51, of Zeeland, was charged with two counts of first degree premeditated murder for the deaths of his sister Gail and her husband Rick Brink on Nov. 21, 1987, in their Park Township home on Ransom Street. After sentencing at 11:30 a.m. April 21, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
“Today, finally there’s justice for what took place on Nov. 22, 1987,” said Budd Brink, brother of murder victim Rick Brink. “We’re pleased to have this, finally, justice Rick deserves.”
Wyngarden held his head down in his hands as the verdicts were read.
“I didn’t do this,” he said as he was taken out of the courtroom by Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
The prosecution, led by attorney Lee Fisher, said Wyngarden killed the couple because he was jealous of their success and didn’t want his sister to tell Rick, 28, about Wyngarden’s sexual relations with Gail, 22, when they were younger.
Wyngarden’s defense, led by attorney David Hall, said the couple could have been killed in a case of mistaken identity because the previous owner of the Brink house dealt drugs brought from Detroit.
The case centered on the testimony of Pam Wyngarden, Ryan Wyngarden’s wife, who told police in January 2013 that her husband confessed to the killings on that November weekend.
“She was simply unable to carry the burden inside for 25 years,” Fisher said in closing arguments. “She had a chance to right a wrong and she did it — at a great cost to her.”
Pam Wyngarden said that her testimony, first heard in public at a February 2013 preliminary examination, has divided her family, setting siblings against siblings and destroying traditions of family gatherings.
On Thursday, a member of the court gallery yelled, “Telling lies about me!” and had to be pushed out of the courtroom by Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
— By Jim Hayden, The Holland Sentinel