The sister of the defendant and one victim in the 1987 double murder of Gail and Rick Brink returned to the witness stand Tuesday morning as the second week of the trial continued in Ottawa County Circuit Court in Grand Haven.
Cheryl Murphree first testified on the first day of the trial last week. She is the sister of defendant Ryan Wyngarden and victim Gail Brink.
Wyngarden is charged with two counts of premeditated murder of the couple in their Park Township home in November 1987. If found guilty, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Murphree described what Wyngarden said several days after the murder when the family was together before the funeral.
“He said, ‘You know, sometimes I wonder if I could have done this,’” Murphree told Lee Fisher, the prosecution’s lead attorney.
She then said Ryan Wyngarden talked about walking down the hall in the house and seeing Gail roll over on her left side.
“A comment like that, I couldn’t comprehend where that came from,” she said Tuesday.
Murphree recalled a later conversation in which she said Wyngarden told her he had gone through Gail’s personal papers and took letters from men that Wyngarden didn’t want their parents to see. Wyngarden said he destroyed the letters, she said.
She also recalled a phone conversation about 2000 when Wyngarden said he was having trouble with a rodent in his yard in Zeeland.
“He said, ‘I pulled out my .22 and shot it,’” Murphree testified, who then pressed Wyngarden about what he said. He then said he pulled out his “gun,” not a .22, she said.
Gail and Rick were killed by .22-caliber revolver, the prosecution said. A gun was never recovered.
Murphree and Wyngarden had a falling out after their father died in 2006 over veterans benefits for their mother, according to Murphree. The brother and sister now only talk “when it’s necessary,” Murphree said.
In October 2012, Wyngarden called Murphree to make amends, she said, and that Wyngarden had forgiven her. Murphree did not know that was when detectives had interviewed Wyngarden in relation to the murder of Gail and Rick Brink.
Testimony continued Tuesday afternoon when the defense cross-examined Murphree.
— By Jim Hayden, The Holland Sentinel