MOORHEAD — Almost a year after his brother went missing and was later found dead, Travis Yarbrough appeared in Clay County District Court on Tuesday, June 11, to speak about his brother's murder.
"When I reported Troy missing about a year ago, I never thought it would end like this," Yarbrough told the courtroom, referring to the death of his brother, Troy Edmond Yarbrough, whose remains were discovered on a farmstead near Hitterdal, Minn.
A man accused of having a role in the death, 40-year-old Jason Charles Jensen of Hitterdal, was sentenced Tuesday on one felony count of second-degree aiding and abetting murder with intent, but without premeditation.
Judge Michael Fritz ordered Jensen to serve 38 years and seven months in prison. Jensen pleaded guilty in April, and the sentence given Tuesday was part of a plea agreement.
Jensen and his co-defendant, 35-year-old Kayla Louise Westcott, of Ada, Minn., were arrested and charged in June 2018 after authorities identified them as persons of interest in the missing person case of Troy Yarbrough.
Yarbrough went missing out of Wahpeton, N.D., and authorities later found his remains at Jensen's Hitterdal farmstead at 25374 70th Ave. N.
At the April court hearing, Jensen pinned the killing of Yarbrough on Westcott, claiming that he took no part in the killing but acknowledged his role in helping dispose of Yarbrough's body.
Jensen said he and Westcott picked up Yarbrough the weekend of May 19, 2018. The three were in a shed on the farmstead when, Jensen said, he saw Westcott hit Yarbrough with a cinder block and then a rake or broomstick.
He said that after returning a few hours later and finding Yarbrough was still alive, Westcott struck Yarbrough with an ax.
Jensen's account differs drastically from Westcott's version of events. According to court records, Westcott told authorities it was Jensen who struck Yarbrough with a rake handle and an ax, later hitting him with a cinder block after finding him alive.
Westcott, who faces the same charge as Jensen, was ordered to undergo a mental health examination at a court hearing in May. Her case is still pending.
"I've come to believe I may never know what happened," Travis Yarbrough said at Tuesday's hearing, pointing to the differences in Jensen and Westcott's versions of events. "In my opinion, a person who does this is a hateful, cowardly human being."
Troy Yarbough grew up on a farm near Hitterdal and worked various jobs in the Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton-Breckenridge areas, according to his obituary.
At the end of his statement in court, Travis Yarbrough thanked his friends and family for helping him and his mother through the ordeal. He also thanked the law enforcement officials who worked on the case.
"We will continue to remember all of the good times we've had with Troy," he said.