PONTIAC (WWJ/AP) – A 29-year-old man has been convicted of killing and chopping his girlfriend into pieces inside the home they shared in Oakland County.
A jury on Friday found William Dhondt guilty of first-degree murder and mutilation of a dead body in the death of 29-year-old Kaitlin Hehir.
Police say Dhondt initially reported Hehir missing in February 2013. Dhont was arrested days later after investigators found Hehir’s body parts hidden around the couple’s home on Clochester Street, near Orchard Lake and 10 Mile roads in Farmington Hills. Investigators also recovered damaging evidence from the home, including bloody plastic.
Prosecutors described the crime as deliberate and brutal. In an earlier hearing, Detective Andrew Morche told the court that Dhonte had confessed about what he had done after his arrest. First, Dhonte said, it started with an argument that turned physical.
“The defendant described hitting Kaitlin in the face with a glass cup, causing her to hit her head on a dresser and fall to the ground. The defendant got on top of Kaitlin and hit her multiple times in the face with his fists, causing her to bleed from the nose and mouth,” Morche said.
Morche said Dhonte confessed to then slamming his girlfriend’s head against the floor repeatedly before he finally killed her. The official cause of death was strangulation.
“The defendant then used his hands to strangle Kaitlin to death as she struggled and fought for her life. The defendant stated that the entire incident lasted about four minutes,” Morche said. “The defendant dragged the victim’s lifeless body to the basement where he used available tools to dismember her body.”
Investigators say Dhonte skinned Hehir’s limbs and removed her muscles and tendons “like she was an animal.”
Defense lawyer Judith Gracey argued that Dhondt snapped during a drunken argument and didn’t mean to kill Hehir, making voluntary manslaughter a more appropriate charge. She also asked the jury to “disassociate” the dismemberment from Hehir’s death, saying “Kaitlin was no longer Kaitlin at that point,” according to the Macomb Daily.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in Michigan. A sentencing date was not immediately set.