Abusive boyfriend indicted on first-degree murder in woman’s death

A man with multiple prior domestic violence convictions is now facing a potential life sentence for his girlfriend’s death.

In an indictment made public on Friday, a Hennepin County grand jury charged 39-year-old Matthew Scott Brenneman with first-degree murder for the death of 33-year-old Danicka Marie Bergeson over the summer. Prosecutors had previously charged him with second-degree murder.

Court records state that Hopkins police found Bergeson’s body inside her apartment along Van Buren Avenue on July 8. At that point, she had been dead for at least a day. Officers also found Brenneman in an incoherent state and “an overwhelming odor of bleach” in the bathroom.

Additionally, charging documents state that a note to Bergeson’s and Brenneman’s families and friends said Brenneman “never meant to disrespect Bergeson” and other drafts denying physical violence in his past. However, court records note several prior domestic assault and abuse cases against Brenneman, including one from an incident in May where he allegedly threatened to kill Bergeson.

He made his first court appearance on the upgraded charge on Friday afternoon and had his bail raised to $2 million. If convicted of the first-degree murder charge, he’d now face life in prison compared to a maximum of 40 years in prison under a second-degree murder charge.

“Our thoughts are with the victim’s family as they navigate this terrible chapter of their lives,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement. “Intimate partner violence requires a powerful response. It is an act that leaves traumatized survivors and devastated families in its wake. We are aggressively prosecuting those who commit this violence.

“Prosecution is only part of the necessary response. More must be done to support domestic violence victims, from earlier interventions that account for the complexity of these situations to the tools and support survivors need to escape dangerous environments.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, several resources are available to offer help. For immediate help, contact:

More than 12 million people just in the U.S. are affected by domestic violence every year, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The organizations listed above can help connect victims to resources like safe shelter, advocacy, legal help and support groups.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline also offers tips for identifying abuse and supporting victims of abuse. CLICK HERE to see those.

Other organizations that can help include:

Minnesota also has a list of many other resources for victims of crimes that can be found HERE.