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Wirgau sentenced to up to 30 years

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez Josh Wirgau is escorted out of the courtroom today after receiving a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

ALPENA — Josh Wirgau, an Alpena man implicated in the 2021 deaths of Brynn Bills and Abby Hill, was sentenced on Thursday by Judge Ed Black to a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors originally charged Wirgau in the deaths of the two girls, but he reached a plea deal with the State of Michigan late last year, agreeing to plead guilty to accessory after the fact and disinterment and mutilation of a body in the death of Bills and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Hill. In exchange, charges of first-degree murder and felony firearm were dropped.

Black gave three concurrent sentences, giving Wirgau a maximum of 20 years for the disinterment and mutilation of a body, a maximum of 10 years for accessory after the fact, and a maximum of 30 years for involuntary manslaughter.

Before the sentencing, Wirgau apologized in court for his crimes. Afterward, family members of Bills and Hill had a chance to share the impact of the deaths of their loved ones.

Duane Bills, Bills’ father, was not present, but he wrote a letter that was read out loud for the court to hear.

“As I’m sitting here writing this letter, all I can think about is Brynn Bills had her life shortened for no apparent reason in this senseless act,” Bills said in the letter. “As I sat through Joshua’s testimony … he had no remorse for his part of what happened to my daughter. The simple fact is he buried my daughter’s body in the backyard as if she were a piece of trash.”

All family members who spoke during the sentencing asked for the maximum sentence for Wirgau.

Black followed the sentence agreement, stating that modifying anything may lead to later consequences and impacts down the line.

“Despite what the family said, despite the fact that — while you apologized — you did not provide any background or information to anybody as to why it is that happened,” Black said. “If you had done that, I don’t think that things would necessarily change. You’ve taken something that was precious and now you’re going to end up with something precious that’s being taken from you.”

The plea deal was made in exchange for Wirgau’s testimony against his friend, Brad Srebnik.

Srebnik was found guilty Feb. 8 of two counts of premeditated murder, weapons charges, and disinterment and mutilation of a body and awaits his own sentencing. He faces life in prison but maintains his innocence to the allegations.

Srebnik will receive his sentence from Judge Alan Curtis on April 1 at 9 a.m.

The saga of the killings began in August of 2021 when Bills was reported missing and not heard from despite celebrating her 18th birthday. Weeks later, her remains were found buried behind Wirgau’s home on Naylor Road. Wirgau admitted he operated an excavator rented by Srebnik to dispose of the body.

Not long after, police began a search for Hill, whose remains were found behind the Holcim Alpena plant in a heavily wooded area.

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