Ashton Matheny will endure one of the most difficult moments of his life on Friday when he walks into a North Dakota courtroom for the sentencing of the woman who conspired to murder his longtime girlfriend and the mother of his baby girl.
On Friday afternoon, 38-year-old Brooke Crews, of Fargo, North Dakota, will learn her punishment in Cass County District Court for her role in the death of 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, who was eight-months pregnant with her first child with Matheny when she was slain in August.
Crews — who along with her live-in boyfriend was one of two suspects charged in LaFontaine-Greywind’s disappearance and death — pleaded guilty on Dec. 11 to three charges: conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and giving false information to the police.
She faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. (Calls for comment to her attorney were not immediately returned on Thursday.)
Crews’ boyfriend, 32-year-old William Henry Hoehn, was arrested on Aug. 24 on the same charges. He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a May trial.
On Thursday, Matheny traveled to Fargo with his and LaFontaine-Greywind’s 5-month-old daughter, Haisley Jo, for a rally in LaFontaine-Greywind’s honor and for the sentencing the following afternoon, which he says has left him feeling unsettled.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do or say or feel when I see Brooke in court,” Matheny, 22, tells PEOPLE.
“I am hoping for the best — and hoping for the worst for Brooke,” he says.
Crews lured LaFontaine-Greywind to her third-floor apartment on Aug. 19 in the building where they both lived in Fargo, police have said.
At some later point, the younger woman was killed and her baby stolen from her, according to authorities. However, they have remained tight-lipped about the details — including how the victim gave birth — citing Hoehn’s ongoing case.
LaFontaine-Greywind’s body was found on Aug. 27. An autopsy showed her death was the result of “homicidal violence,” and Fargo Police Chief David Todd said, “Savanna was the victim of a cruel and vicious act of depravity.”
Matheny says he was too shaken to go to any of the court proceedings before this. As of Thursday afternoon, he says he is still feeling too “emotional” to make a victim impact statement before the judge on Friday “or even to write one.”
“It’s just too upsetting,” he says.
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LaFontaine-Greywind’s mother, Norberta Greywind, is expected to make a statement through her attorney, Matheny says. “It’s going to be a tough day,” he says — a challenging experience after an excruciating five-and-a-half months.
As Matheny told PEOPLE in December, “Now I’m mom and dad.”
Before LaFontaine-Greywind’s death, the high school sweethearts who met in 2011 had their lives mapped out. They were set to move into a cozy apartment close to the building where she lived with her parents. They’d furnished their new home with donated couches and tables — and a new crib for the baby girl who was due in mid-September.
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All of that came to an end when LaFontaine-Greywind vanished in August from her family’s basement apartment in the same building where Crews and Hoehn lived upstairs.
Crews, police and prosecutors have said, brought LaFontaine-Greywind to her apartment that Saturday afternoon with a promise of $20 in exchange for helping her model a dress she claimed she was sewing.
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What happened next still remains unclear, though court documents show Hoehn allegedly told police he arrived home from work on Aug. 19 to find Crews cleaning up blood in the bathroom of their apartment. She was also holding a baby girl and allegedly told him, “This is our baby, this is our family,” the documents state.
With LaFontaine-Greywind still missing, police on Aug. 24 found Crews in her apartment with a days-old newborn.
Three days later, the missing woman’s body was found wrapped in plastic and duct tape in Fargo’s Red River. DNA testing eventually proved what was suspected all along: The baby girl found with Crews was in fact LaFontaine-Greywind’s daughter with Matheny.
‘Justice Must Prevail’
On Thursday night in Fargo, dozens of friends, families and well-wishers came out in support of LaFontaine-Greywind.
Asking people to “join us in solidarity” the day before the sentencing, organizers said in a Facebook invitation, “It’s up to US to show the judge how the heinous murder of Savanna affected EVERYONE.
“Justice must prevail. Who knew one of our own would never be seen again after taking just TWENTY FOUR STEPS!? I still cry..do you?”
Ashton, too, continues to mourn the loss of the woman he planned to one day marry. As he cares for the growing Haisley Jo, he says he takes pride in her growing list of milestones.
“She’s starting to learn how to roll over and is ‘talking’ to me a lot more,” he says. “She holds her head up really well and is almost sitting up on her own.”
He says he loves being a dad: “It’s the best.”
And he’s grateful for the hundreds of donations he’s received through an online fundraiser set up to help him with expenses for his young family. (The GoFundMe has raised more than $15,000.) “It’s taken a lot of the stress off me,” he says.
“I’m so grateful to everyone for their support and for their messages on the GoFundMe page,” Matheny tells PEOPLE. “I read every one of them. They meant a lot to me.”