A former University of Mississippi student has pleaded guilty to murder and sentenced to life in prison for the death of his Ole Miss classmate, 21-year-old Ally Kostial, whose bullet-riddled body was discovered more than two years ago.
Brandon Theesfeld, 24, who was initially charged with capital murder and faced a possible death sentence, pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder and admitted shooting Kostial multiple times in July 2019, the Oxford Eagle reported.
Lafayette County Judge Kelly Luther accepted Theesfeld’s plea after his defense attorney Tony Farese and the prosecution agreed on reducing the charge. First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life behind bars.
Theesfeld appeared to get emotional as he apologized to both Kostial’s family and his own — though he did not say why he killed her.
“I am sincerely sorry for the pain I’ve caused while taking Ally from you,” Theesfeld told his victim’s family, according to the news outlet.
“My actions have forever changed your lives and my family’s lives. I wish I could take it all back but I can’t. There is no excuse for my actions and I have asked God for forgiveness. I hope one day that you will find it in your heart to forgive me,” he added.
On Friday, Farese presented the court with the mental evaluation conducted on his client in October 2020. It determined that he was sane as well as mentally competent to stand trial.
Assistant DA Mickey Mallette said in court that the evidence showed Kostial and Theesfeld met at Ole Miss, where their friendship would turn romantic from “time to time.”
Before her murder, Kostial — who had been taking summer courses, teaching yoga and pilates and starting a golf club — reportedly confided in her Alpha Phi sorority sisters that she was pregnant with Theesfeld’s baby and that he’d been upset when she told him.
On April 12, 2019, Kostial told him she was concerned she might be pregnant and later sent him a photo of an inconclusive home pregnancy test, saying she wanted to talk in person about the potential pregnancy.
Theesfeld’s internet search history revealed he searched for abortion pills and abortion services, according to Mallette, who said he agreed to meet with Kostial but would fail to show up or back out at the last minute for a variety of reasons.
On July 12, 2019, he texted Kostial that he did not want to talk with her.
“There was an allegation that (Kostial) was pregnant. The evidence showed she was not pregnant,” Farese told reporters after the proceedings.
“The autopsy showed that she was not pregnant and there was no evidence that she had been pregnant. But, that was part of the underlying theme of their relationship,” the lawyer said.
Theesfeld then traveled to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and posted a photo on social media of a .40-caliber Glock pistol with the caption, “Finally taking my baby back to Oxford.”
He also searched the internet for silencers and suppressors for the weapon, which was bought by Theesfeld’s father in Texas, according to the evidence read in court.
On July 16, 2019, Theesfeld returned to Oxford, where he searched online for hollow-point ammo, tactical face masks and information on how serial killer Ted Bundy lured victims, the Oxford Eagle reported.
Two days later, he texted Kostial that he could visit her and asked if her house was private, according to the evidence.
Early on July 20, Theesfeld’s truck was seen on video head toward Kostial’s residence, where gunshots were heard later.
Kostial’s body was found a few hours later along with 11 .40-caliber shell casings. Her purse was found about a third of a mile away.
Theesfeld was collared July 22 at a gas station in South Memphis, still in possession of the murder weapon, according to the report. In his apartment, police reportedly found
a legal pad that contained a letter Theesfeld wrote his family.
When police tracked Theesfeld down, he was reported to be wearing bloody clothes and keeping a weapon inside his truck. His attorneys had requested a psychological evaluation for their client at the Mississippi State Mental Hospital.
“I’m not a good person. It is not your fault,” he wrote. “Something in me just doesn’t work. I’ve always had terrible thoughts. I’ve always had these feelings. I just kind of felt off. I think this is the end for me. I’m either going to prison or going to die. I know I’m going to get caught.”