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Murder Defendant Gets 36 Years For Child Pornography

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A Bloomington man facing murder charges in the 2017 brutal stabbing of a woman was sentenced to 36 years in prison Friday for possession of pornographic images of a teenage girl.

Kyle Brestan
Credit McLean County Jail
Kyle Brestan was sentenced Friday to 36 years in prison.

In a plea agreement finalized in September, Kyle Brestan admitted to four counts of taking illegal photos of the girl. Authorities contend the victim spent time at Brestan’s home during her spring break in 2017. More than 20 additional charges, including 16 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Before hearing the state’s evidence against Brestan in the Bloomington case, Judge Casey Costigan heard testimony from an 18-year-old Missouri woman who said Brestan initiated sexual contact with her starting when she was 11 years old and living in Illinois. The contact continued for three years, she said, while Brestan was dating her mother.

No charges have been filed in DeKalb County where the alleged sexual misconduct occurred.

Two Bloomington police detectives testified about their investigations into illegal images they found on Brestan’s cell phone during an investigation into the May 2017 stabbing death of Shannon Hasting, of East Peoria, in Bloomington.

Detective John Heinlen testified that the 15-year-old girl depicted in the photos and images considered herself Brestan’s girlfriend at the time she was questioned.

The sexual activity occurred on a regular basis, “too often to count,” said Heinlen.

Brestan continued the misconduct after he learned the minor’s true age, said the detective. The child’s mother allowed her to return to Brestan’s home after she was brought home in response to a runaway report filed by her family, said Heinlen.

First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon sought the maximum sentence of 48 years. Arguing that the public needs to be protected from Brestan.

The victim met Brestan at a Bloomington church where her father attended support group meetings for alcohol and substance abusers. Police found evidence of child pornography and possible sexual assault on Brestan’s cell phone after he was arrested on the murder charges.

Brestan’s sister Kelleye Brestan testified that the person described in the criminal charges “is not consistent with the Kyle I grew up with,” a “fun-loving, compassionate older brother.”

In her arguments for the minimum stance of 16 years, defense attorney Stephanie Wong cited Brestan’s long history of mental illness and substance abuse.

“Kyle is not beyond salvation,” said Wong.

In his statement to the court, Brestan said his mental health issues and addiction to drugs and alcohol were the behind his behavior. He said the girl in Bloomington told him she was 21, a falsehood she also used on social media.

“It was sort of an instant relationship,” said Brestan.

In his ruling, the judge acknowledged Brestan’s mental health issues but also noted several missed opportunities for treatment following prior arrests. The illegal sexual contact was not a single incident, but “ongoing conduct,” said Costigan.

Jurors chosen Dec. 9 to consider murder charges against Brestan in the stabbing death may hear about the child porn case and a 2012 domestic battery conviction, according to a recent ruling by Costigan. The 27-year-old victim was found in a hotel room on Bloomington’s west side. She had been stabbed more than 100 times, according to prosecutors.

In a hearing in October, Wong argued that information about the unrelated child porn case could be unfairly prejudicial. Characterizing the state’s evidence against Brestan as “entirely circumstantial.” An acknowledgement of the two convictions by Brestan “would entice the jury to find defendant guilty only because it feels he is a bad person deserving punishment,” Wong argued.

But First Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon contends the prior convictions are a small portion of Brestan’s criminal history and could assist jurors in judging the credibility of Brestan’s testimony, should he choose to take the stand.

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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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