Murderer to spend life in prison


Maddy Brockert’s voice held steady for several minutes as she described to Philip Howard Zimmerman the wide and lasting impact her mother’s death, at Zimmerman’s hands, would have.

“You deserve to suffer in prison for what you did — for the rest of your miserable life,” Brockert said. “All my mom did was care for you. She wanted to believe behind that controlling personality there was good.”

Zimmerman, 47, admitted earlier this year to beating Susan Brockert, 44, in May 2011 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii. Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra sentenced Zimmerman Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the second-degree murder charge, plus ordered the Washington state man to serve consecutively another 20-year sentence, for a kidnapping charge. The consecutive sentencing effectively prevents Zimmerman from ever being eligible for parole.

Ibarra ordered Zimmerman to serve another five years concurrently with the kidnapping sentence for the third charge to which Zimmerman pleaded guilty, second-degree criminal property damage.

“This case is much more heinous, much more cold-blooded, much more heartless” than many murders, Ibarra said before imposing the sentencing. “There’s nothing that can minimize the effects of this crime. What makes this crime stand out, this is especially heinous (and) cold-hearted, especially because the defendant continued to beat her” while Susan Brockert begged him to stop and hotel staff pounded on the door and attempted to break into the barricaded hotel room.

The judge also considered Zimmerman’s history and character, particularly his behavior before the murder and emails meant to humiliate and threaten Susan Brockert, in making the ruling to run the sentences consecutively.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kauanoe Jackson argued for consecutive sentences.

“No sentence but consecutive sentences can make this right,” Jackson said. “This was as cold-blooded as you can get.”

Susan Brockert’s daughter, a high school student, and her sister, Donna Eken, both asked Ibarra for the consecutive sentencing. Maddy Brockert said she now speaks with other students about domestic violence and encourages students to leave abusive relationships. Maddy Brockert said she couldn’t understand why her mother wouldn’t leave Zimmerman, but after learning more about abuse, she began to understand how Zimmerman belittled her mother, stripping away her self-esteem and causing Susan Brockert to believe she was responsible for Zimmerman’s problems.

“Go ahead and starve yourself,” Maddy Brockert said, referencing Zimmerman’s attempts to stop eating while awaiting sentencing. “The second the sentence is done, you could die and no one would care. You tore this family apart. I will not let this control me for the rest of my life.”

Zimmerman apologized to Brockert’s relatives. He blamed his emotionless manners on mental health medication he began taking after being arrested for Brockert’s death.

“I know words will never fix what I have done,” Zimmerman said. “My words are sincere, and I am truly sorry for what I’ve done.”