Where is Brent Dennis now? His crimes and conviction detailed

Gregory Brent Dennis almost got away with the murder of his wife, Susan Winters. Absent the persistence of Susan’s family, Dennis would likely be spending the millions he stood to inherit from her death on a suspected cocaine addiction. 

At some point, Dennis must have believed his scheme had worked. The medical examiner had ruled Winters’ death a suicide after finding lethal doses of prescription medication and antifreeze in her body. Investigators rarely spend time looking into deaths classified as suicides. 

However, Winters’ family hired a private investigator that collected evidence casting doubt on the suicide conclusion and painting Brent Dennis as a murderer. 

In May 2022, Judge Michelle Leavitt sentenced Brent Dennis to between three and ten years in prison. Judge Leavitt based the sentence on an Alford Plea, which is slightly different from a typical guilty plea. 

When a defendant enters an Alford Plea, they admit that the prosecution has enough evidence to secure a conviction during a trial. However, the defendant still maintains their innocence. The defendant concedes that a court of law may find him guilty regardless of their innocence. 

The Alford Plea is sort of the middle ground between acquittal and conviction. Unlike other pleas, the judge can reject an Alford Plea, forcing the defendant to withdraw the guilty plea and potentially go to trial. 

Judge Leavitt accepted the agreement in Brent Dennis’ case and sentenced him. “For him it was all or nothing – he goes to trial, jury convicts him, he goes to prison for the absolute rest of his life,” Marc DiGiacomo, the prosecutor, said. 

“Brent Dennis resolved this case without making any admission of guilt in order to eventually return his life to normalcy,” defense attorney Richard Schonfeld wrote to the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Prosecutor DiGiacomo had referred to the case against Brent as ‘highly complex with a lot of circumstantial pieces of evidence.’ DiGiacomo viewed a ten-year sentence as justice, saying:

“While the defendant did not make a verbal admission of guilt, he agreed to receive a 10-year prison sentence for killing his wife. A sentence of that type for a 60-year-old man is clearly justice for Susan.”

“This case is not just a tragedy,” Natalie Tyrrell, Susan Winters’ best friend, said. “This case is the ruination of a family.”

Unlike Winters’ parents, who insist Brent killed Susan Winters, Brent’s daughters believe in his innocence. The daughters, named after maternal grandparents, maintain, like their dad, that Winters died by suicide. 

During the sentencing hearing, Dennis’ attorney, Richard Schonfeld, read the following statement from the daughters: “The past seven years have only confirmed our love and support for our dad; despite the hardships, our bond is stronger than ever.”

Schonfeld said Dennis agreed to the Alford Plea to shield his family from ‘the stresses of a trial.’ In court, Helen Biddy, Susan Winters’ aunt, said that her side of the family was estranged from Susan’s daughters. Avis Winters, Susan’s mother, lamented the family’s situation:

“As if losing Susan wasn’t enough, we also lost the relationship we had with her daughters because we never believed this case was anything other than a murder case. The sadness is overwhelming at times, but we know that God is in control and he will provide justice for Susan eventually.”

Nevertheless, she hailed the convict as a significant step to healing. “Nothing will erase the memory of what happened to Susan, but hopefully after today we can begin the healing process,” Biddy said

Avis Winter added: “Losing my daughter has created a void in my heart that will never be filled. I miss her every single day.”

Susan Winters was found unresponsive in her home on 3rd January 2015. Her husband had performed CPR under the guidance of a 911 dispatcher, but he couldn’t revive Susan. 

The autopsy revealed that Susan consumed a deadly ‘combination of oxycodone and antifreeze.’ The finding and Brent’s assertions that Winters had threatened to hurt herself prompted authorities to rule her death a suicide. 

However, Brent failed to convince Winters’ family that their beloved Susan had committed suicide. The family hired a retired FBI agent to investigate the death and instructed attorney Tony Sgro to file a civil suit against Dennis. 

“Everything that we learned seemed to point toward foul play,” Sgro said. “Nothing we learned tended to point toward Susan taking her own life.”

The former FBI agent uncovered Brent’s relationship with Jeffrey Crosby, a cocaine supplier. Records showed Winters called Crosby several times in the days before her murder. 

“She was going to turn him in and Brent in for selling to him,” Susan’s father said on Dateline. “She wanted Brent to stop and she thought that would get him [to] stop.” Winters’ family believed Susan threatened to report Dennis to the psychology board, which could have impacted his career as a psychologist. 

Brent also had a financial motive – he stood to inherit about $2 million upon Winters’ death. Furthermore, investigators found that Dennis had researched how long it would take ethylene glycol, a component in antifreeze, to kill someone. 

Prosecutors said that Denis waited for Winters to stop breathing before calling 911 and issued a do-not-resuscitate order at the hospital. Also, hours before Winters’ death, Denis had withdrawn money from her account and deposited money into his checking account. 

Denis said he withdrew the money because he knew Winters’ parents would freeze her accounts after her death. His statements suggested he knew Winters would die hours before her passing. Prosecutor DiGiacomo stated:

“He [Brent Dennis] knew that when she died that her parents would freeze that account. The problem for Mr. Dennis is, he knew some nine hours before her death that she was going to be dead.”