A DuPage County judge sentenced confessed killer Jacob Nodarse on Monday to 75 "hopeless years" in prison for his role in the murders of three members of a Darien family.
The ruling by Judge Daniel Guerin spared Nodarse a formal life term but puts the 26-year-old shooter behind bars until he's about 98 years old.
Prosecutors had sought 52 years for the former Countryside man, whose testimony in April helped convict co-defendant Johnny Borizov of triple-murder charges.
Guerin said he took into account Nodarse's cooperation and other factors but could not overlook the severity of the crime.
"When you shattered that glass, you shattered that family," he told the defendant, who used a hammer to break into the victims' home in March 2010.
In 2011, Nodarse pleaded guilty but mentally ill in the killings of Jeffrey and Lori Kramer and their 20-year-old son, Michael.
He later testified he was conned into the slayings and coached by Borizov, who was locked in a bitter child-custody battle with Jeffrey and Lori Kramer's daughter, Angela.
On Monday, Nodarse sat calmly as the sentence was imposed.
Outside of court, the victims' family members embraced and shed tears.
"I didn't want him walking among us," Jeffrey Kramer's mother, Judy Pokorny, said.
She added that between Nodarse and Borizov, who received three consecutive life terms last month, "they'll never see daylight or breathe fresh air" again.
"We're going to live a little bit now," she said.
Angela Kramer, who survived the slayings by hiding in a bedroom closet, said Nodarse deserved "the strongest punishment possible."
"(He) does not deserve any feeling of ever being free," she said in an impact statement.
Before he was sentenced, Nodarse repeatedly apologized to the Kramers and said there was "no justification" for his actions.
He described himself as "very close" with Michael Kramer before meeting Borizov.
"Mike was the best friend I ever had, and I violently slaughtered him and his parents," he said. "I feel no one should forgive me. I don't deserve it."
Nodarse said he prays daily for the Kramers and will "eternally be in anguish with remorse."
"There are no words for how sorry I am for what I've done to you," he said.
Guerin had the option of sentencing Nodarse to a minimum 45 years under a plea agreement.
He acknowledged the gunman had a lengthy history of mental illness and substance abuse -- but said it was necessary he spend "hopeless years" in prison for "the terrifying minutes (he) spent inside the Kramer house."
DuPage State's Attorney Bob Berlin said the term "reflects the severity of these horrific, horrific crimes."
"We feel, in this case, justice was done," he said.
Nodarse's uncle, Renaldo Nodarse, offered a public apology to the victims and said it wasn't until his nephew met Borizov that he became a killer.
He described Nodarse today as "repentant" and having a "good heart."
"He wasn't well and was just very easily manipulated," the uncle said.
Cindy Bennecke, who said her son went to school with Nodarse in Westmont, also spoke fondly of Nodarse, remember him as "quiet, sweet, polite, thoughtful and responsible."
"I don't know who that was that night," she said. "It was not the Jacob I know."