Ottawa Co. man gets life sentence for neighbor’s murder

Ottawa County

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Ottawa County man convicted of murdering his neighbor while she was clearing snow from her property will spend the rest of his life in prison.

A judge handed Wendell Popejoy the state-mandated life sentence for his first-degree murder conviction, saying he showed no regard for Sheila Bonge’s life when he shot and killed her on her Crockery Township property.

The deadly shooting happened Dec. 26, 2017 after Popejoy and Bonge reportedly argued over a driveway easement.

On Monday, Bonge’s sister, Val Flaherty, read a victim impact statement to the court as a stone-faced Popejoy stared into the distance.

“We will never see her smile or hear her laugh,” Flaherty said before the court. “What you didn’t take was our memory (of her).”

Flaherty dispelled comments from neighbors during the trial who said Bonge was a mean nuisance. She described her sister as caring, mentioning how Bonge cared for others for years as a nursing home aide.

“She cared for everybody,” Flaherty told 24 Hour News 8 after the sentencing. “There’s just no words for this. There’s no reason for what he did.”

Relatives said that the sentence provides some relief, but they don’t believe there is any punishment that could bring them complete satisfaction.

Outside of his name, Popejoy didn’t say much during the sentencing.

His attorney disputed claims that Popejoy planned out killing Bonge.The attorney said Popejoy made a spur-of-the-moment decision.

However, in a written confession, Popejoy reportedly said that he was not sorry Bonge was gone.

The judge also sentenced Popejoy to 24 months in prison for a weapons conviction.

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