Man pleads no contest in shovel beating cold case | KOB 4

Man pleads no contest in shovel beating cold case

J.R. Oppenheim and Kasia Gregorczyk
April 19, 2018 06:13 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The man accused of nearly beating a Cibola High School senior to death with a shovel a decade ago pleaded no contest to two of the charges against him.


Justin Hansen entered his plea on the attempted murder charge and aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon charge in District Court on Thursday. The remainder of his charges, including kidnapping and aggravated assault, were dismissed.

Police arrested Hansen last year for the 2008 attack on Brittani Marcell, and he originally pleaded not guilty to six charges. His trial was expected to go to trial in a few weeks.

The development shocked many people, including Marcell's sisters. They said they learned of the potential change of plea Thursday morning. They said they're relieved.

"The judge kept saying guilty and that was, I think, that was where I got kind of broken up," said the victim's sister, Alicia Marcell. "You’re saying you did this. Thank you. This is one step that you’re taking responsibility for this.

'But it was also heartbreaking to imagine him in our house beating my sister, so I wish we could find out why. And maybe somewhere in the course of this, we will. And that will change nothing for Brittani or our family, but hopefully, it will give us a little more closure."

A "no contest" plea means the defendant does not admit to the charges but will not fight them. Hansen still faces up to 18 years in prison.

A sentencing will be held on July 25. The Marcell family says they will be pushing for Hansen to receive the maximum sentence. Family members, including Brittani herself, will be in court to give their statements.

"No matter what happened, Brittani did not deserve this and no reason in his mind justifies any of this," Jennifer Marcell said. "No contest is guilty for us.”


J.R. Oppenheim and Kasia Gregorczyk

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