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Murder victim's mother: 'We're his voice now'

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Brandon Arndt's service dog, Yaggy, comforts Norma Hanson in the home where her son was murdered in September 2018. "In my heart of hearts, I know he is still here," Hanson said. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Sitting in her living room, not far from her son’s remains, Norma Hanson said she felt a little lighter Friday afternoon.

The day before, the man who killed 38-year-old Brandon Arndt was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life-in-prison without the chance of parole.

“Even though I know now who did it and the reasoning behind it, I'm still trying to wrap my head around stuff yet,” Hanson said. “It was so senseless, like the judge said.”

She said she takes comfort in the signs she sees of her son, like hidden keys, moved spices and banging noises from the hall or bedroom.

Hanson attended every day of jury selection and the trial. She watched each piece of evidence be presented, saw the crime scene photos and was there when the life sentence was handed down. Watching it all, Hanson said, was like hell but worse. Two trials still remain, and Hanson said she plans on attending those as well.

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"Every one of them are going to see my face in that courtroom every time they are in there. To have part of Brandon, because truly he is part of me ... to have Brandon there and know that, you know what, my mom is standing up for me," she said. "Brandon doesn't have a voice anymore, we're his voice and he needs to be heard."

Hanson and family friend Teresa "Terri" McConnell still call the trailer where Arndt took his last breath home. She said it was hard, but it has gotten better every day.

“It was really hard to take my chair and drive down the hall,” she said. “It was like I was running over him ... but then I thought, You know, he wouldn't want that ... and he wouldn't want me depressed ... so that's why I've tried to keep my sense of humor.”

Hanson said she needs to find a way to forgive the man who took her son’s life.

‘I'll never forget. Ever,” she said. “But with my faith, I need to forgive. Somehow, some way.”

Later this month, another milestone will pass that Arndt will miss — his 40th birthday.

“This year, my angel food won't flop as big as it did last year when I was sitting there making it and bawling,” Hanson said. “That was his favorite — angel food cake with Philadelphia cream cheese frosting and homemade lasagna.”

It was his birthday dinner every year.

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“It will always be hard,” she said, “but I'm hoping that it eases a little each year and eventually I'll be up there with all of our loved ones that we have lost way too soon.”

Related Topics: CRIME
Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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