Former BKFC and RIZIN fighter Sheena Brandenburg has been sentenced after she pleaded guilty to a fatal August 2020 hit-and-run incident.
Brandenburg, 38, was sentenced Friday to 5 to 15 years in prison, according to a report by local news outlet UpNorthLive.
Also known by her competition name “Sheena Starr,” Brandenburg was arrested in May on charges stemming from an August hit-and-run incident that left one person dead in Crawford County, Mich. In May, she pleaded guilty for operating with a license suspended/revoked/denied causing death.
The alleged hit-and-run occurred on Aug. 1 at around 1 a.m. local time. Michigan State Police officers responded to the scene of an apparent single-vehicle crash involving a motorcycle. Police found motorcyclist Troy Lambert, 56, injured. He was transported to Munson Hospital in Traverse City, Mich., where he later died from his injuries sustained.
Further investigation revealed the incident was not a single-vehicle crash. According to police, Lambert was struck from behind by Brandenburg in her vehicle. Both Lambert and Brandenburg were coming from a local tavern. Police say Brandenburg did not stop to assist Lambert after she struck him.
When police identified Brandenburg as a potential suspect, she had already left Michigan.
Following her arrest, Brandenburg was extradited to Michigan State Police and placed in Crawford County Jail. She was arraigned March 8 on one count of reckless driving causing death and one count of failure to stop at scene accident resulting in serious impairment or death. Her bond was set at $250,000.
According to Crawford County Court online records, Brandenburg has a long history of arrests, which includes operating under the influence of liquor (OUIL) in 2016 and operating while intoxicated in 2012 and 2010.
A warrant for Brandenburg’s arrest first was issued in October. This past December, despite having a warrant out for her arrest, Brandenburg (0-4 MMA) competed at BKFC 15 and lost to Jenny Clausius by second-round doctor stoppage. The loss was Brandenburg’s second in three career appearances for the promotion.
“Very honestly and transparently, I don’t think any company out there does background checks on their fighters (in terms of) their criminal backgrounds every fight,” BKFC president David Feldman told MMA Junkie shortly after Brandenburg’s arrest. “Once they’re involved, then they’re involved if nothing pops up in the news. I don’t think they’re all checking. We certainly didn’t check her criminal background check to see if there were any warrants for her. We never got a call. No one ever reached out to us to tell us there was a warrant, so I have no idea. That’s really how that happened. Nobody said anything, so I guess it flew under the radar for her.”
BKFC wasn’t Brandenburg’s only time in the international combat sports spotlight. She also competed in the 2017 RIZIN grand prix and was submitted in the opening round by Shinju Nozawa-Auclair.