Bellevue man gets life in prison for murdering girlfriend

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) A Bellevue man who beat his girlfriend to death while the two were vacationing in Hawaii has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

{A href=""}Philip Howard Zimmerman, 47, was sentenced Tuesday for second-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of 44-year-old Susan Brockert at The Fairmont Orchid hotel in South Kohala last year. The couple was vacationing at the Big Island resort when Zimmerman killed his girlfriend.

The life sentence for murder plus another 20 years for kidnapping means Zimmerman will never be eligible for parole, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

Brockert's daughter, Maddy Brockert, told the court that Zimmerman deserves to suffer in prison for the rest of his life.

"All my mom did was care for you," she said. "She wanted to believe behind that controlling personality there was good."

Resort employees testified that they rushed to the fifth-floor room where guests reported hearing screaming on May 23, 2011.

Hotel worker Ernest Valenzuela said he climbed onto the room's balcony from an adjoining room and looked through the sliding glass doors. He testified that he saw a woman lying in the hallway, and he saw her being hit in the head with a 2-foot-long piece of granite tile that he recognized as being a piece of room furniture.

Workers kicked in the door and found Susan Brockert lying in her bathrobe. Resort security supervisor John Overbook testified that he checked for a pulse but couldn't find one.

An autopsy found that Brockert died from multiple blunt force and sharp trauma to her head and neck.

Third Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra said at the sentencing that the murder was especially brutal and heartless.