WATCH: Man pleads guilty to murder of Dylan Rounds after leading law enforcement to burial site - East Idaho News
Dylan Rounds

WATCH: Man pleads guilty to murder of Dylan Rounds after leading law enforcement to burial site

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James Brenner pleaded guilty to the murder of Dylan Rounds on May 15. | Jordan Wood,

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah — James Brenner admitted to the murder of 19-year-old Dylan Rounds after leading law enforcement officers to the burial site as part of a plea agreement Wednesday.

Brenner walked into the courtroom limping and weak, but Rounds’ mom, Candice Cooley, says it’s all an act.

“(Brenner) puts on this appearance that he’s weak and feeble,” Candice Cooley, Rounds’ mother, tells “People have to realize he’s been in jail for almost two years now. That was not the man he was when he did what he did to Dylan.”

RELATED | Man charged with murder in Dylan Rounds case

Rounds disappeared from his farm in the desert town of Lucin, Utah, over Memorial Day weekend in 2022. The 19-year-old spoke with his grandmother on the phone before be vanished and was never heard from again. His family spent the past two years searching for answers.

Brenner was squatting on property near Rounds’ farm when the young man disappeared, authorities said.

During court, Judge Brandon Maynard read the allegations to Brenner, including new details that he had shot Rounds in the head multiple times. When asked if the allegations were true, Brenner simply stated, “Yes, sir.”

As part of the agreement, Brenner pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Rounds and two counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person. All other charges were dropped.

RELATED | Body of Dylan Rounds found in remote Utah desert, family says

Brenner agreed to show law enforcement the location of Rounds’ remains, which occurred on April 9. The body was found in Lucin, but the exact area is unknown.

Dylan Rounds
Dylan Rounds | Courtesy photo

Brenner also received a reduction from the first-degree felony aggravated murder of Rounds to second-degree felony murder. The agreement stated that the sentences for each of the charges will run consecutively, and prison time is mandatory.

He will receive little credit for time served – 17 days – while he was in the local jail.

Both the defense and prosecution agreed to recommend a minimum of three and a maximum of 30 years in prison at sentencing.

According to Cooley, this is not nearly enough prison time for what Brenner admitted to doing to her son.

“More than likely, Brenner will die in prison. But it shouldn’t even be an option. It should be 25 to life,” says Cooley. “But the justice system forced us into this type of plea.”

RELATED | Suspect in Dylan Rounds’ disappearance has violent past

Rounds’ parents worked closely with prosecutors to secure a plea deal to find the remains of their son, according to a news release from the Box Elder County Attorney’s Office.

“Being able to bring Dylan home and bring this prosecution to a successful conclusion is a great relief,” says Box Elder County Attorney Stephen Hadfield in the release. “It has been amazing to see what the tireless and unrelenting efforts of so many different people can accomplish. We wouldn’t be here today without each of their individual contributions.”

Brenner’s sentencing is scheduled for July 1 in Brigham City.