Bremerton man sentenced to nearly six years in prison for death of girlfriend

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A Bremerton man accused of strangling his girlfriend was sentenced to nearly six years in prison.

The Kitsap Sun reports 59-year-old Richard Heller was sentenced Monday in Kitsap County Superior Court after pleading guilty in July to second-degree manslaughter in the death of 66-year-old Perleen Bode in January 2017.

Investigators had at first believed that Bode died from her ongoing medical conditions. Heller had claimed she died during the night.

Two autopsies found Bode had severe spinal cord injuries and died of a broken neck. One of the reports found evidence of strangulation.

Prosecutors had charged Heller with first-degree murder leading up to trial last month but agreed to the lesser charge for the guilty plea.

Attorneys for Heller did not immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment.