Defendant accepts plea deal in 2019 murder of Cynthia Hoffman

Denali Brehmer is scheduled to be sentenced in late August
Denali Brehmer plead guilty to first-degree murder as part of a plea deal offered by the state
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 7:45 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Denali Brehmer appeared before an Anchorage Superior Court judge Wednesday morning to accept a plea deal offered by the state.

Brehmer is one of six people alleged to be involved in the 2019 murder of 19-year-old Cynthia Hoffman.

Brehmer plead guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in exchange for the five other charges made against her being dropped. Superior Court Judge Andrew Peterson accepted her plea immediately.

“She was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, solicitation to commit murder in the first degree, two different theories of murder in the second degree, and a tampering with evidence,” said State Prosecutor Patrick McKay.

In June 2019, Brehmer, Hoffman, and 16-year-old Kayden McIntosh drove out to Thunderbird Falls to go on a hike after a trip to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, according to charging documents. Allegedly, all of them agreed to duct tape Hoffman and take pictures before McIntosh shot Hoffman in the head and pushed her into a river. Her body was found by police a few days later.

Both Brehmer and McIntosh were arraigned on murder charges, as well as Caleb Leyland, 19, who let the pair borrow a car to carry out the murder.

The whole case stemmed from 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller, an Indiana man who Brehmer had been in contact with. Brehmer thought Schilmiller was a millionaire named Tyler from Kansas, who allegedly offered her $9 million or more to carry out the murder and send him videos and/or photographs of the murder.

Two other unnamed juveniles were also involved.

Hoffman’s father, Timothy, has been present for every court hearing since his daughter was killed. On Wednesday, he was unable to attend in person, but called into the hearing by phone to maintain his commitment to see the case through and hear Brehmer’s admission of guilt.

“It was a sign of relief in that this is almost over,” Hoffman said in an interview after the hearing. “All I want is me and my daughter to have peace, and to have peace this has to be done. But my job is to make sure that all (involved) do time for what they’ve done.”

Brehmer, now convicted of first-degree murder with her guilty plea, is set to go before a judge for sentencing on Aug. 22. She faces a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Trial dates have yet to be set for Schilmiller, Leyland, and McIntosh. They are scheduled to appear back in court on Mar. 15.