Breaking News
More () »

Muskegon County man found guilty of murder ordered to serve life sentence

Ryan Berry was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder in September.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Muskegon County Circuit Court Judge Annette R. Smedley ordered Ryan Berry to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole Thursday morning.

This comes after a Muskegon County jury in September found Berry guilty of first-degree premeditated murder. 

RELATED: Jury finds Muskegon County man on trial for murder guilty on all counts

In August of 2019, police rescued Berry while swimming in Lake Michigan near the Grand Haven pier. During trial Berry took the stand and testified that his intention was to take his own life by drowning that day.

Berry also testified that he shot 28-year-old Evan Yonker to death using a shotgun he removed from a gun rack in Yonker’s bedroom.

The murder happened inside Yonker’s Dalton Township home in Muskegon County.

The 29-year-old Berry was charged as a four-time habitual offender for prior felony conviction including malicious destruction of property, unlawfully driving away a vehicle and second-degree home invasion.

Berry said during a sentencing hearing he's regretted his actions that day everyday for the last 26 months. "And I will regret it everyday for the rest of my life," Berry told Smedley. The the family of Evan Younker Berry asked they not waste any of their time hating him. "Because you'll never hate me more than I hate myself," he said.

The sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole was a forgone conclusion, that's the mandatory sentence for a conviction of first-degree premeditated murder in the state of Michigan.

The sentencing hearing made that sentence formal, and offered the parents and sister of Younker to speak to the judge and Berry.

"Words can not express the pain and anguish our friends and family have endured since Evan's murder," said Evan's father Chris Yonker. "The loss of my son is beyond words. He was only 28 and had his whole life ahead of him. There will be no more birthday parties, backyard gatherings, holiday celebrations, family trips."

"I gave Evan life, you took it away," said Evan's mother Diana Ward. "You watched as he lay dying. When you killed Evan, you killed a part of me."

"Since you made the decision to take my brother's life you have created wounds on more people than you will ever know. Wounds that will never heal," said Evan's sister Emilie Smith.

Younker was a father, who's two girls were 4 and 6 at the time of his death. 

"They will grow up with a piece missing from their lives and their hearts," Ward said. "A place where their father should have been." 

Related video:

Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.