Zachary Wiegand expressed remorse Friday for his two-day crime spree in Minnesota and Wisconsin that included shooting a Lake Elmo woman four times, but Judge Eric Lundell questioned his sincerity and sentenced Wiegand to 26 1/2 years in prison for committing armed robbery and arson in Hudson, Wis.
"This is one of the worst criminal events in Hudson history," said Lundell. He also told Wiegand before sentencing him in St. Croix County Circuit Court that he almost didn't hear the case because he knows and has respect for Wiegand's father, a Hudson police officer.
Wiegand, 32, pleaded guilty Monday to robbing two security guards of $238,000 on May 29, 2003, and setting fire to the stolen getaway vehicle. Three other felony counts were dropped.
In February, he pleaded guilty in Washington County to shooting Julie Bever in an attempted carjacking the night before the robbery and was sentenced to 12 years on that crime.
Lundell didn't comment on Wiegand's Minnesota crimes except to say that Wisconsin would take a much harder view of premeditated crimes that put people in fear for their lives. He said he was disappointed that Wiegand waited until Friday to express remorse.
"The terror that you caused on this two-day event will never be forgotten by the victims here," Lundell told Wiegand, who at one point turned to Bever and her family to apologize. "I'm so sorry for what happened to you. I'm so sorry," Wiegand said, crying. She turned to look at him, pressing tissues to her eyes.
Lundell sentenced Wiegand to 25 years in prison for armed robbery. The prison time will begin after he finishes his 12-year first-degree attempted murder prison sentence in Minnesota.
His sentence for arson, 18 months, will run concurrent to his other sentence. Wiegand will serve 17 years of extended supervision after his release from prison.
Lundell also ordered restitution of the money that Wiegand stole from two armed car guards outside Citizens State Bank in Hudson. He spent most of it before police caught him last year, District Attorney Eric Johnson and Police Chief Marty Jensen said Friday.
Wiegand's wife, Debra, is also charged with five felonies in the Hudson case. She's scheduled for a plea hearing in Lundell's court next week.
Defense attorney Brian Smestad said Friday that Wiegand acted out of desperation because his house was in foreclosure, he was "having severe marital problems," and he was suicidal.
"He specifically asked me to make no excuses for what happened here," Smestad told the judge. "He is remorseful. I wish I could express more clearly how shocking and out of character this was for Mr. Wiegand."
But Lundell questioned the timing of Wiegand's remorse and said he was unmoved by defense pleas.
"The fact is that you sat for years on that money. You had an opportunity to turn yourself in. You didn't do that; you were caught after absolutely phenomenal police work." Surrendering "would have showed the ultimate remorse," Lundell said.
Wiegand shot Bever the night of May 28, 2003, when he tried to seize her car on a road in Lake Elmo. The getaway vehicle he burned after the robbery was a van he had stolen at gunpoint from a woman who stopped to help Bever.
"It's just been emotionally draining," Bever said tearfully outside the courtroom after sheriff's deputies led Wiegand away. "It meant something to me that he said he was sorry."
Kevin Giles • 612-673-4432