Man convicted of killing Marshfield native, UW student in 2008 gets life in prison without eligibility of parole

In October, David Kahl pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide in the 2008 death of Brittany Zimmermann
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:36 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:24 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - The 56-year-old man convicted of killing a University of Wisconsin- Madison student in 2008 will spend life in prison without the eligibility of parole.

In October, David Kahl pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide. Kahl addressed the court during sentencing.

“I would like to apologize to everybody. Especially to the Zimmermann family. I took away Brittany’s 21-year-old life... The family she could have had. Giving her mother grandchildren. Her father’s grandchildren. I just feel horrible. I’ve accepted the punishment I have coming,” said Kahl.

Judge Chris Taylor then addressed Kahl, saying she doesn’t believe he does understand the consequences of his actions.

“Parents do not get over losing their child,” said Judge Taylor.

Police said Kahl killed Brittany Zimmermann on April 2, 2008. Zimmerman, 21, was a Marshfield native studying at UW-Madison. Investigators said she was stabbed and strangled at her Madison apartment.

The case remained unsolved for many years until prosecutors filed charges against Kahl in 2020. Detectives said Kahl, who lived about a mile from Zimmermann’s apartment on the 500 Block of Doty Street, was panhandling for money on April 2, 2008. They said he made a loop, approaching four different people over the course of 50 minutes. Police say the timeline puts him at Zimmermann’s apartment at the time of her murder.

Detectives say they brought him in for questioning that day and allege he told them he asked people for money to buy crack. The complaint states he admitted to being high that day. Detectives also noticed he had small cuts on his hand. A few days later, police say Kahl told them he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia a few years prior and was off his medications.

In 2018, analysts matched Kahl’s DNA with evidence from Zimmermann’s shirt. Police announced his arrest in early 2020 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime. Kahl’s attorney argued in December of 2020 that the evidence in the case was circumstantial.

Kahl agreed to the terms of a plea agreement last October. He pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide and was found guilty as result.

Kahl has 20 days to appeal.