Prosecution, defense wrap up in double murder trial

The prosecuting attorney put the photo of a smiling Gail and Rick Brink on the overhead projector so the jury and crowded gallery could see the young couple as they were before being shot to death.
The Holland Sentinel
Mar 28, 2014

It was the same photo Lee Fisher showed on the first day of the trial almost three weeks ago.

“The focus is Rick and Gail Brink,” Fisher said as he began closing arguments Thursday afternoon in Ottawa County Circuit Court in Grand Haven.

They were happily married, well-liked with good jobs — then, he said, they were “shockingly executed” in their Park Township home on Nov. 21, 1987.

Ryan Wyngarden, 51, is charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder for the deaths of the couple. If convicted, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Closing arguments will conclude today with the prosecution’s rebuttal to the defense’s closing, then the case will be given to the jury.

The prosecution 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.

According to the prosecution, Wyngarden was angry after he argued with his sister the Friday before the murder, and went to their home but was told to leave. He came back, saying he was having car trouble, then shot Rick twice in the head in the victim’s Chevy Blazer and Gail three times in the head while she slept.

“That’s personal,” Fisher said. “You can’t get any more personal than shooting them in the face.”

Wyngarden’s wife, Pam, said her husband confessed the next day, but she didn’t tell anyone until almost two years ago.

“She was simply unable to carry the burden inside for 25 years,” Fisher said. “She had a chance to right a wrong and she did it — at a great cost to her.”

Pam Wyngarden sat in the front row of the gallery in the courtroom for the more than four hours of closing arguments.

The defense, though, questioned why Pam Wyngarden waited more than two decades to tell police about the confession, noting she married Ryan Wyngarden after the murders — even after he confessed to her, defense attorney David Hall said — and had three children with him.

“If Mrs. Pam Wyngarden is lifting a burden off her shoulders ... doing the right thing, why did she wait 25 years before being brought into the police department?” Hall posed.

The defense said she was pressured by police to confess.

Hall wondered why she didn’t run away and call police, or tell someone in those early years when she and Ryan Wyngarden just met.

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Maybe Ryan is a sociopath and falsely confessed to his fiance for the attention. Ever think of that? This whole thing is crazy!!

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