Kahl pleads guilty in 2008 killing of Brittany Zimmermann

Kahl pleads guilty in 2008 killing of Brittany Zimmermann
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 9:39 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 10:47 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The man who killed UW-Madison student Brittany Zimmermann more than 14 years ago was found guilty of homicide on Thursday morning.

David Kahl returned to a Dane Co. courtroom where he was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide following a plea deal with prosecutors. Not long after finding Kahl guilty, Judge Chris Taylor handed down the mandatory life sentence and set a new hearing date to determine if he will ever have the opportunity for extended supervision.

As part of his arrangement with the Dane Co. District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors agreed to recommend for him to be eligible for the extended supervision after 20 years of incarceration. Prosecutors later reiterated they, along with Kahl’s attorney, would be recommending that sentence during the Jan. 12, 2023, sentencing hearing.

Taylor said she wanted to ensure that everyone affected by Zimmermann’s death would have the opportunity to offer a statement before making her final ruling.

Zimmermann’s aunt Kimberly Heeg did speak during Thursday’s hearing, decrying the defense’s request for full sentencing right away, calling the reasoning for it, “nothing short of obnoxious.”

“We have a family have had nothing but torture for 14 years while he did his soul searching to decide to come clean,” she continued, adding she and her family hope Kahl stays locked up for good.

Kahl had pleaded not guilty in July of 2021 for death of Brittany Zimmermann, who investigators say was stabbed and strangled. The 21-year-old from Marshfield was studying Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the time.

In the criminal complaint, detectives say Kahl, who lived about a mile from Zimmermann’s apartment on the 500 block of Doty Street, was panhandling for money on April 2, 2008. They said he made a loop, approaching four different people over the course of 50 minutes.

The complaint states that as Kahl walked down Wilson Street, Bedford Street, and finally Doty Street, asking people for $40. Police say the timeline puts him at Zimmermann’s apartment at the time of her murder.

Detectives say they brought him in for questioning that day and allege he told them he asked people for money to buy crack. The complaint states he admitted to being high that day. Detectives also noticed he had small cuts on his hand. A few days later, police say Kahl told them he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia a few years prior and was off his medications.

In 2018, analysts matched Kahl’s DNA with evidence from Zimmermann’s shirt. Police announced his arrest in early 2020 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime. Kahl’s attorney argued in December of 2020 that the evidence in the case was circumstantial.

A jury trial for Kahl had been scheduled to begin in January of 2023.

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