He then set fire to her body while their two sons hid in the basement. He turned himself in later that morning.
A Brooklyn Park man was sentenced Tuesday to 40 years in prison for beating his estranged wife to death with a baseball bat, then setting fire to her body while their young sons cowered in the basement.
Henry Hickman, 55, was sentenced one week after he pleaded guilty to second-degree intentional murder for killing Cynthia Hickman, 34, on Feb. 26, 2011.
Hickman was scheduled to stand trial for eight counts, including two counts of first-degree murder, before he entered the plea.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Hickman would have served a life sentence.
With his plea, all remaining counts were dismissed.
He consented to two aggravating factors that allowed Judge Mark Wernick to sentence him beyond recommended guidelines -- the fact that his two sons were in the home at the time and the violent manner of his wife's death.
Less than two weeks before Cynthia Hickman was killed, a judge had granted her an order for protection, which forbade her husband of 13 years from coming near.
A week later, when he ran out of money, she let him return and live in the basement. According to the charges filed last year, a man Cynthia Hickman was seeing reported to police that he had received a call from her cellphone early that morning.
When he answered, he heard a voice that was allegedly Hickman, saying: "She's done and you're next. I'll find you."
Police rushed to the house at 6208 70th Av. N., where the boys came up from the basement and said they had last seen their mother upstairs.
Police found her charred body beneath a flaming mattress.
The boys told investigators they woke up to their mother screaming and saw their father come out of her bedroom with a bat, according to charges.
Henry Hickman allegedly told the boys everything was OK and returned to the room. The children said they heard more thumps and screams, then saw their father light something and throw it into the bedroom before he rushed them downstairs.
When police arrived, one boy told police he thought his father was still in the house; the other said he was too scared to run out or call for help.
Hickman turned himself in that morning at the Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center.