STANTON — Robert Munsell and Julie Danielson had dated and then broke up, but family members say he wouldn’t leave her alone.
Six months after the relationship ended, Munsell went to Danielson’s home in Pierson Township. What they discussed is a mystery, but the main fact is a certainty — Danielson was found dead in her home in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Her throat had been slashed. Thankfully, her twin 4-year-old sons were not in the home at the time.
Munsell himself placed the 911 call, reporting an assault and an unresponsive person.
Munsell, of Grand Rapids and Ionia, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder. He faces up to life in prison, but likely will be sentenced to from 37.5 years to 75 years in prison due to a plea agreement.
Munsell appeared in 8th Judicial Circuit Court via closed circuit television from the jail. He answered Judge Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger’s preliminary questions clearly and calmly, but when he stated his guilty plea he became visibly upset and stammered as his voice shook.
“I used a knife,” Munsell told the judge. “I, I, I used, I, I, I used a knife and cut … cut her … cut her throat.
“And did you have any reason or justification for doing that sir?” the judge asked.
“No, I didn’t,” Munsell replied.
He then hung his head down for a long time, looking up only to wipe his eyes.
Munsell also pleaded guilty to being a habitual offender third offense. He has prior convictions of resisting/obstructing a police officer in 2000 and delivery/manufacturing marijuana in 2001, both in Ionia County.
Several of Danielson’s family members were in court Thursday, including her mother, Karen Blank who came down from the Upper Peninsula, sister, Liz Blank, aunt Deb Hazen and cousin Wayne King.
Karen Blank wept in the courtroom as Munsell described how he murdered her daughter. The family gathered in the parking lot outside to debrief.
“There’s never going to be justice, not until he meets God himself,” Karen Blank said. “Then there’ll be justice. He took away a beautiful person. She had twin boys that just turned 5 in January that will have to grow up every day without her. And she was the best mom ever. So there’s never going to be justice.”
Family members described Danielson as an accomplished and strong person, emotionally, mentally and physically. She was 5 foot 10 inches tall, played softball all her life, had a master’s degree and taught at Baker College.
“She could have beat him silly,” said Karen Blank of her daughter and Munsell. “He had to have caught her off guard. She didn’t want him. It was one of those if I can’t have you, then nobody can (situations).”
Family members said Munsell and Danielson had broken up six months before he killed her, but he continued to stalk her. Liz Blank said after her sister was murdered, she found Facebook messages her sister had sent friends expressing fear about Munsell.
“She was afraid and we found this out after she passed away,” Karen Blank said. “She never told us, she didn’t want me to worry about anything. Nobody told us. She should have gotten some help.
“I do want to send a message out there to women to get safety in their homes and not to date guys like that, get a background check on them, and if your family has any issues with them, listen to them because they love you,” Karen Blank added. “If this can happen to someone like her, it can happen to anyone. These bad boys are not worth dating. Please don’t date them.”
Liz Blank said she wished Michigan had capital punishment for a case like this.
“I think that he should be executed,” she said. “ There’s never going to be justice in this case, because we can’t get her back. There’s no justice.”