By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK — What prosecutors called a “family tragedy” had its final day in court Friday when a Lincoln Park man was sentenced to 16 to 30 years in prison for the murder of his sister.
Gerald Eugene Dennis, 33, was found guilty by a jury last month of second-degree murder in the death of Deborah Siefert in the home they shared in the 1500 block of College Avenue. Dennis was sentenced to prison by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Qiana Denise Lillard.
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Raj Prasad said the trial reflected a family tragedy of long-term substance abuse by both Dennis and Siefert, and of Dennis’ struggle with mental illness.
“A lot of the testimony showed a history of drug abuse,” Prasad said of the trial and verdict, which took the jury just over an hour to reach. The jury had the option of first- or second-degree murder; the greater charge would have resulted in life in prison without possibility of parole.
In February 2012 police responded to emergency calls and found Siefert dead, the victim of blunt force trauma.
Dennis was taken into custody the following day, and — according to testimony given by Lincoln Park investigators last month — admitted to having struck Siefert and giving her, “three or four good shots” to the head with a metal rod.
Last month’s trial presented evidence that included the metal rod and clothing from the house that held blood stains, and testimony from a man and woman who lived at the time in a basement apartment.
Dennis’ attorney told the court that Dennis suffered a form of schizophrenia.
He was subjected to several competency evaluations before it was determined he understood the charges against him and was capable of participating in his own defense.
Investigators testified that Dennis said he’d been abused by Siefert, that she’d used his disability money to buy drugs and that he’d “had enough.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])