Gail Moran wanted her daughter’s killer to know something before he was sentenced Friday afternoon in a Gloucester County courtroom.
“If I was there that night, I would have killed you, too,” she said.
Daniel J. Brennan will spend at least 12 years and nine months in prison for the July 2018 beating death of Leeann Foltrauer, 31, in her Pitman home. He’d been dating the victim.
Brennan, 34, of Greenwich Township, Cumberland County, also faces a murder charge in the 2011 killing of another girlfriend, Courtney Allen, who was pregnant with his child.
He was originally indicted on a first-degree murder charge in the Foltrauer case, along with weapon and theft offenses, but pleaded guilty in August to a first-degree charge of aggravated manslaughter.
Superior Court Judge Robert Becker Jr. sentenced Brennan to 15 years in state prison under terms of that plea agreement. He must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Under terms of the plea agreement, the sentence will be served concurrently to whatever time he may receive in the Allen case, which occurred in Cumberland County.
Foltrauer met Brennan via the Tinder dating app and he eventually moved into her house. He was accused of tying her hands and beating her to death, then stealing her vehicle and her debit card.
A neighbor reported hearing a “commotion and loud noise from inside the home” and a witness told investigators that Brennan said he had a fight with Foltrauer and took her Nissan Rogue.
Police obtained security camera footage in New Jersey and Delaware locations that showed him using the debit card to make purchases and trying to use it to withdraw money from her bank account on the day of the killing.
Brennan sold the vehicle for $100 before his arrest days later in Mount Ephraim, police alleged.
Several of Foltrauer’s family members and friends addressed the court before sentencing.
Moran recalled her daughter as a kind and caring woman who left behind a young son who recently turned 4.
“She had so much spirit in her. She grew up surrounded by a loving family and friends and you took her away from all of us,” Moran told Brennan.
The victim’s brother, Eric Foltrauer, spoke in favor of the death penalty for his sister’s killer.
“Mercy to criminals is cruelty to their victims,” he told the judge. “Allowing murderers to keep their lives is a cosmic injustice. What about the loved ones of those who are murdered? Their suffering is immeasurably increased knowing the person who murdered their loved one is alive and being cared for.”
Foltrauer noted that Brennan had the opportunity to consider what he was doing to the victim.
“Even if the defendant was in an altercation with my sister, her hands were bound,” he said. “That shows that he had time to think … He had time to choose to bind her hands, to choose to steal her debit card and her vehicle.”
Brennan kept his head down through most of the hearing and declined the opportunity to make a statement.
The victim’s best friend, Andrea DaCosta, described Foltrauer as someone who never judged, always listened and offered the best advice.
“Because of him, I’m left alone in this world now,” she said of the defendant. “I lost so much of myself the day she died … She can’t see her son grow up. How can this ever be explained to him. How is justice being served today. How is 15 years OK?”
Another friend, Barbara Shelmire, noted that by the time Foltrauer’s son turns 18, Brennan will be out of jail and going on with his life.
She sobbed as she spoke about the child growing up without his mother.
Shelmire wants to see Brennan pay for his actions. “I hope he goes to hell for it. I’m a Christian woman and I do not believe that anybody should go to hell … they should believe in Jesus Christ if they want a good life. But I really, truly hope that Daniel goes to hell.”
Prior to sentencing, Becker reviewed Brennan’s criminal record, which includes burglary, theft, resisting arrest and drug offenses, and referenced his substance abuse issues.
“This defendant is an addict and an alcoholic who will remain lawless until the addictions are effectively dealt with, in my opinion,” the judge stated. “Quite frankly, unless there’s some substantial change in attitude, this defendant is highly likely to re-offend.”
Under terms of the plea agreement, the sentence will be served concurrently to whatever sentence he receives in the 2011 case from Cumberland County.
Weeks after his arrest in Foltrauer’s death, Brennan was charged with killing Allen, 24, who was found in the basement of her Vineland home on New Year’s Eve 2011.
Allen’s obituary described Brennan, her live-in boyfriend and father of her 2-year-old daughter, as her fiance.
An autopsy ruled her death was caused by “asphyxia due to neck compressions,” and the investigation revealed her body had been moved and “repositioned” prior to police arriving at the home.
Brennan was interviewed three times and gave contradictory statements, police said.
An apparent break in the case came last year when investigators received a tip from another woman who had dated Brennan.
She told investigators that he assaulted her during a domestic dispute, hitting her with a belt and vowing that “he was going to kill her like he killed Courtney,” according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the Allen case.
Prosecutors haven’t said exactly what evidence led them to finally file charges for Allen’s death.
Matt Gray may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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