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Billings man being sentenced for stabbing 2 sisters to death in January 2012

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BILLINGS, Montana — A Billings man who pleaded no contest to stabbing two sisters to death in January 2012 was sentenced Tuesday to 100 years in prison.

"You will be confined and absent from society with a sentence that possibly — and hopefully — will be for the rest of your life," District Judge Mary Jane McCalla Knisely told Andrew Scott Denning, 23, in handing down the two concurrent 100-year terms.

Denning pleaded no contest May 6 to two counts of deliberate homicide for the deaths of 22-year-old Rose and 21-year-old Daisy Edwards. He said he couldn't remember the killings, but acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Denning apologized Tuesday and read a statement in court that said, in part: "I am not worthy of your forgiveness or your understanding, but take solace in the fact that before this is over I will share your pain."

Billings police detective Keith Buxbaum testified that both women were stabbed multiple times and that Daisy was stabbed more than 130 times, including 34 times on the side of her face, reported The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/1AvBok0 ).

Autopsies found Rose had been choked and died of a stab wound to her neck, while Daisy's fatal injury was a stab wound to her heart.

Assistant Public Defender Clark Mathews said Denning has a documented history of mental health issues and had checked into a mental health ward the week of the killings, but was released with a prescribed sleeping medication.

"It's difficult, your honor, to reconcile the devastation that Drew caused with the kid that I've come to know over the last two years," Mathews said. "I don't know if it's a psychiatric illness combined with his use of Ambien, or what happened. But it happened, so he's got to pay the price."

Matthews asked Knisely to suspend 20 years of a 100-year sentence, but she declined. She called the killings "ritualistic" and "systematic."

Denning has been jailed with bail set at $1 million since his arrest on Jan. 30, 2012.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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