Editor’s note: The murder of Michael K. Hogenson on April 16, 2018, in Tremonton, was the first the homicide the city has seen in over 50 years. The event shook the city and residents in an act of violence so rarely seen in the Bear River Valley that the Leader newspaper is running a series of in-depth articles about the case.
Leader County Editor Cari Doutre has reported this case from the beginning and attended every court hearing for the past 14 months. The defendant in this case, Brandon K. Thompson, was sentenced on June 20, 2019, in Brigham City.
In this article, excerpts from Hogenson’s family during Thomson’s sentencing and the impact the death of their loved one has had on them are shared.
Thompson was sentenced to spend 15 years to life in the Utah State Prison on one first degree felony count of murder. He was also sentenced on two second degree felonies, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and one count of obstruction of justice, both receiving one to 15 years in prison. All sentences will be served concurrent with 425 days credit for time served.
Thompson is appealing the sentencing and the Utah Supreme Courts’ Court of Appeals has been assigned to review his case.
Originally, the family of Michael Hogenson thought that April 30, 2019, would be the day they would see justice in the untimely shooting death of their loved one. They came prepared to give statements to the court that day before First District Court Judge Brandon Maynard in Brigham City, but instead their pain was dragged on even further.
Brandon K. Thompson, the man convicted of killing Hogenson on April 16, 2018, was set to be sentenced in April 2019 after taking a plea deal. But he changed his mind, again. Instead, his sentencing came on June 20, 2019, dragging out the judicial process longer.
At that June sentencing, family and friends for both Hogenson and Thompson filled the courtroom. Divided by rows, all watched as Thompson was led into the courtroom in an orange jail-issued jumpsuit and handcuffs.
Family members of Hogenson came prepared to give their statements, and one by one made their way to the front of the courtroom with their emotions running high.
“Nothing will make this easier whether Brandon gets the minimum of 15 years or life, he gets to live his life. He gets to contact his family and we’ll never have that again with Michael," said Hogenson’s sister, Jessica Wills.
"Every year I have to go through knowing that my brother is frozen at 33 years old," Will said. He’ll never get older."
The man in which Hogenson shares a name with, his father, Michael Hogenson, spoke about his son’s death.
“The day I was called and told that my son was killed was the hardest part of my life. It was the hardest day of my life. I was in disbelief,” he said. “I can’t believe my son died at the bottom of a stair case within two feet of his front door.”
“My son was a good boy and I’m not just saying that as a dad," Hogenson added. “He was always the type of kid that would help anybody.”
“He considered Brandon a friend and that is what is so perplexing to me is how a friend can kill another friend,” he added.
Hogenson’s aunt, Kathy ?, addressed Thompson directly in her statement.
“Brandon, you didn’t just take Michael’s life from him. You took a son from his father and mother. You took a brother from a sister. You took a father from two boys. You took a nephew from his auntie. You took a grandson from his grandmother. You took a devoted and trustworthy friend from many people. You took a smile that brightened so many lives. You didn’t just take Michael’s life, you took a piece of all our lives. We have to live with that loss for the rest of our lives. Because of your cowardly and selfish act, we no longer have the joy of Michael in our lives,” she said.
The most emotional statements given that day were from Hogenson’s two young sons. Their names are being withheld to protect their privacy. Their mother, Jessica Gonzales, described the pain and anguish her sons have suffered after the loss of their father.
“I don’t think either one of my boys can comprehend the impact this is going to have on them. We have our good days and our bad days,” Gonzales said.
“I feel that Brandon has no remorse,” she added. “I’m hoping Brandon never has his freedom because Michael sure didn’t get a choice on his.”
Set to address the court, but also their father’s killer, the younger of the two sons spoke first.
“I wish I could go to Heaven to be with him,” he said. “I think Brandon, the guy that killed my dad, should get the death penalty because it isn’t fair what he did. He made a decision to kill him.”
Hogenson’s older son sat at the desk to the right of Thompson with his mother and brother by his side. When it came time to give his statement, his emotions were overwhelming. Maynard, sensing the emotional impact this was having on the boy, told him to take as much time as he needed. For several minutes the boy wept in the courthouse that day clinging to his mother. It was the only sound in the courtroom. Gonzales read his statement on his behalf.
“I wish I had my dad to turn to when I’m having a rough day. I’ll never be able to talk to him or see him again. I have nightmares about my dad suffering when he died. Brandon made the decision to murder my dad and because of that decision I’ll never be able to see my dad again,” Gonzales read.