- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The man who pleaded guilty to killing his 12-year-old niece in one of the most horrific crimes committed in Vermont apologized in court Tuesday before he was sentenced to life in federal prison without the possibility of release.

Michael Jacques told the court he betrayed a family that offered him love and that he was guilty of the June 2008 killing of Brooke Bennett, whom he abducted and raped before killing her.

“I live with what I did every hour of every day, and I should,” Jacques said. “The victims live with what I did every hour of every day, and they shouldn’t have to.”

Jacques‘ words did little to ease the pain of Brooke’s relatives, and U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions said that in many ways the crime shocked and scarred the entire state.

“We all share in some ways with your loss,” Sessions said to the family before he imposed the already agreed-upon sentence.

Before the sentencing, Brooke’s father, grandmother, older sister and mother spoke of how their lives were forever changed by Jacques‘ actions.

“I hate you. I despise you. You make me physically ill,” Brooke’s mother Cassandra Adams said during her statement. “You are a monster … a filthy pig.”

Adams is the sister of Jacques‘ ex-wife.

Jacques, 48, a convicted sex offender who prosecutors say raped a number of girls over the years before he killed Brooke, pleaded guilty last summer to charges of kidnapping with death resulting and child pornography. He agreed to the life sentence plus 70 years in exchange for the federal government dropping plans to seek the death penalty.

In court Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nolan gave an overview of how Jacques coerced another victim identified in a federal court filing as J1 by threatening to kill her family if she didn’t perform sex acts as directed by a non-existent sex ring created by Jacques.

On June 25, 2008, Jacques and J1 dropped Brooke off at a Randolph convenience store. Jacques and Brooke were recorded walking out together with Brooke going one way and Jacques another.

Jacques and J1 then picked Brooke up and took her to Jacques‘ home. After J1 left, Jacques drugged, sexually assaulted and then strangled and smothered Brooke her by putting a plastic bag over her head.

Besides Brooke’s family, state and federal investigators were in the courtroom, many of whom helped search for Brooke when she was missing and built the case against Jacques.

After the hearing, Col. Tom L’Esperance, head of the state police, said he hoped the family could rest now. “This is a case like I’ve never seen before,” he said.

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