Husband pleads guilty to attempting to kill wife with hammer

Brian Thomas Henjum
Brian Thomas Henjum

Sleeping woman awakens to blows in Oakdale home

An Oakdale man who attacked his wife with a hammer while she was sleeping last fall pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder — the most serious charge against him — in Washington County District Court Monday, Aug. 17.

Prosecuting attorney Siv Yurichuk said it was a "straight plea," meaning there will be no sentencing agreement for 32-year-old Brian Thomas Henjum.

According to the criminal complaint, police arrived at the couple's Oakdale home shortly after 6 a.m., Oct. 2, 2014, on a report of an assault.

Officers arrived at the scene and spoke with Henjum's wife who told police she awoke to her husband hitting her in the head with a hammer.

Police reported significant lacerations and bruising on her head above her eyes and a blood trail throughout the home.

The woman, who was 32 at the time, ran outside looking for help. A woman out walking her dog that morning came to assist her, according to the complaint.

The victim then realized their three young children were still inside and she yelled for them to get out of the house, away from their father who had just attacked her, the complaint stated. She found her two sons in the kitchen, and they came with her outside. She called out for her daughter but was unable to coax the little girl out of her bedroom.

Henjum then brought their daughter out from the bedroom and instructed her to head outside.

Henjum was originally charged with second-degree assault, but the complaint against him was soon amended to a second-degree attempted murder charge after detectives listened to a 911 call where Henjum told emergency dispatch, "I tried to kill my wife."

During a police interview, he allegedly said he was unhappy and admitted to striking his wife with a hammer.

He reportedly added he did not want to spend the rest of his life with her and he "chose the wrong path to take and tried to hurt [her]."

Shortly after he was arrested, he reportedly phoned his father saying he "really hurt [her]" and that he "couldn't imagine making life worse for the kids so I tried to make it so it would just be me."

The woman was treated at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury for two large lacerations near her eye, which a doctor glued together. She also received eight staples to her head above her right ear.

Yurichuk said she did not believe the woman sustained any other severe, permanent injuries, such as brain damage, but said she has permanent scaring on her face, and noted the woman lost a lot of blood during the brutal assault.

Sentencing guidelines in Minnesota for an attempted second-degree murder charge range from 130-183 months, or nearly 11 to just over 15 years.

Yurichuk said she would be seeking the maximum sentence the law allows of 183 months in prison.

Henjum has a criminal history score of 0, meaning he has a clean criminal record with little-to-no criminal convictions.

A Minnesota Trial Court Public Access search did not reveal any criminal convictions for Henjum, other than a couple of minor speeding and parking violations.

His legal team is seeking a downward departure from the normal sentencing guidelines, Yurichuk said. Henjum's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Ultimately, it will be the judge who will decide Henjum's fate based on submitted evidence and arguments from the defense and prosecution. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Friday, Oct. 30.

Henjum is being held at the Washington County Jail in Stillwater without bail.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at or 651-748-7822.


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