Defendant testifies in cold case murder trial

The defendant in a double murder trial took the witness stand Tuesday, denying he killed his sister and her husband in 1987, and explaining several sexual encounters with his younger sister when they were teens.
The Holland Sentinel
Mar 26, 2014

Ryan Wyngarden, 52, spoke in rambling stories with his defense attorney that had the judge stopping his comments on several instances throughout the more than two hours on the stand.

The cross-examination by the prosecution quickly became contentious before the trial recessed for the day.

Wyngarden, who faces two charges of first-degree premeditated murder and will serve life in prison if convicted, was to resume testimony this morning in Ottawa County Circuit Court in Grand Haven.

“I’ve heard lots of fabrications,” Wyngarden said when asked by defense attorney David Hall about charges of incest.

The prosecution says Wyngarden killed his sister Gail and her husband, Rick Brink, out of jealously and to cover up an incestuous relationship when the siblings were teens. Both victims were shot in the head in their Park Township home.

Wyngarden said the first encounter was when he was 12 years old and Gail was 9 or 10 — they were “comparing body parts,” he said, after he took a bath. The incident was not sexual, he said.

The second encounter was a year or so later after both had smoked marijuana. “We just groped each other a little bit,” he said.

The third incident was about a year after that when they were smoking marijuana in their home and they were on top of each other, fully clothed, and their genital areas touched. Their father woke up in another part of the house and “that was that,” Wyngarden said.

“My sister did not lose her virginity to me,” he said.

The encounters were something the two never discussed in later years.

“It’s one of those things I wanted to talk about,” he said.

Wyngarden said he never confessed to killing the couple to his wife, Pam, who told detectives Wyngarden admitted to the murders the weekend they occurred in November 1987.

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