Seventeen months after a seven-months-pregnant Minneapolis woman was beaten to death inside a trailer later set ablaze, prosecutors said Monday at sentencings for the two responsible that not even the fire could erase her spirit.

The body of Annysa Marie Zierhut, 28, was discovered inside the burning trailer in Uptown on Nov. 8, 2021. She had been reported missing in Anoka about a week earlier but the missing person report quickly turned into a homicide investigation, culminating with sentencings for Jade Monet Rissell, 28, of Elk River, and Shannon Michael Benson, 43 of Minneapolis.

Their negotiated plea agreements for two counts each of second-degree murder amounted to 16½ years for Rissell and 28 for Benson. The punishments were handed down in back-to-back separate hearings in a Hennepin County District courtroom.

Rissell will serve fewer than 10 of those years behind bars given Minnesota's sentencing guidelines that require two-thirds of it be served in prison and the remaining third served on conditional release.

Zierhut's father, Robert Ost, said the sentences are "grossly inadequate and pathetic." They should be serving two consecutive life sentences, he said, for his daughter and unborn granddaughter Grace Marie — a name he gave her posthumously.

"If this is justice, then our system is broken and has failed Annysa, Grace and all of us. … I do know that typically people who commit these cowardly acts of violence on vulnerable pregnant women and children are not very well received," Ost said. "It seems that even people in prison may understand a better code of justice than our courts will allow."

Rissell was accused of killing Zierhut after luring her over Facebook to the trailer where she and Benson lived in the Whittier neighborhood. They moved the trailer — with Zierhut's body inside — to Uptown near S. Hennepin Avenue and W. 35th Street before lighting it on fire days after the murder.

Charges state that Rissell admitted to assaulting Zierhut with brass knuckles, knocking her unconscious and lighting the fire to hide her body.

But Ost and Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Jacob Fischmann said Rissell provided more information to prosecutors as part of the plea deal that further implicated Benson, including taking part in Zierhut's beating and strangulation.

"He used [Rissell], manipulated her and made her angry with Annysa — even though she never knew my daughter before she committed this crime," Ost said.

A couple of years before the murder, Zierhut's biological mother died after years of struggling with addiction. Ost said this devastated his daughter and she began to spiral into her own addiction. That's when Zierhut met Benson through acquittances, Ost said.

Benson had an obsession with Zierhut "and a bit of a stalking issue," Ost added.

Benson is a registered predatory sex offender with three convictions for sexual assault, while Rissell has been convicted twice for assault, among other offenses.

When given the opportunity to speak at his sentencing, Benson said only: "Words could not express the pain that I caused at this time."

District Judge Paul Scoggin said he hopes Benson recognizes the true extent to which he has hurt others in life. "In this case most severely. [But] this isn't the only thing that you've done in this life that has left a trail of pain and misery after you."

Before Rissell's sentencing, she told Scoggin that her actions caused a priceless loss.

"I am having a hard time living with myself because of what I have done," she said.

Both defendants at their respective hearings sat a few feet in front a large TV screen. They turned around in swivel chairs to watch images from Zierhut's life. The photos portrayed an idyllic upbringing in the north metro of Zierhut caring for orphaned animals, wearing swimming goggles and sporting various hair colors over the years in school pictures. She eventually became a cosmetologist and hairstylist.

Defendants listened to the same five victim impact statements from Zierhut's family. They heard similar sentiments from the judge acknowledging their pain and "perfectly legitimate feeling that the victim's family has of the inadequacy of the punishment in this case," Scoggin said.

Fischmann, the prosecutor, said that Zierhut will live on in parts of everyone inside that courtroom through thoughts and memories of her.

"Not only did Ms. Rissell kill Annysa, she tried to erase her from this Earth," Fischmann said. "She utterly failed to do that."

Fischmann and the family thanked the FBI, Minneapolis police, as well as the Anoka County Sheriff's Office and Columbia Heights Police Department — two agencies that assisted in the homicide investigation even after it changed jurisdictions.

Grandmother Katherine Ost said she can't look through old photo albums of her sweet granddaughter's face anymore because of the grim reminder she is gone.

"How many hours did she suffer, knowing she could not escape or save the unborn baby she was carrying and already loved? Was she alive when set on fire? I cannot understand this kind of heartless evil."

But last year a message of comfort came to her. Gold stars hung from the ceiling at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Plymouth in memory of those who died.

She said when they went to take the gold stars down, Grace's star fell freely on its own, landing in the baptismal fountain.