More than three years after Shaun Wild's stabbing death in a Naperville bar, his family's "exhausting" grief continued Wednesday as relatives learned his killer was sentenced to 43 years in prison.
Shaun's father, Bruce Wild, said the sentence Judge Kathryn Creswell gave convicted murderer Daniel J. Olaska of Naperville was "appropriate" for Olaska's actions on Feb. 4, 2012.
"We're pleased with the verdict as well as we can be as a family," he said after the sentence was announced. "We feel that 43 years is appropriate for such a heinous crime as this."
The sentence calls for Olaska to serve 40 years for the murder and three additional years for unlawful use of a weapon.
Olaska's lead defense attorney, Ernest DiBernedetto, said he intends to appeal.
The sentencing came more than two months after Olaska, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder for the deadly stabbing inside Frankie's Blue Room, a bar in downtown Naperville.
Prosecutors say Olaska stabbed Wild, 24 and a 2011 graduate of North Central College, through his heart and just below his elbow. The stabbing occurred at 12:46 a.m. when Wild tried to grab Olaska after Olaska stabbed Willie Hayes, a North Central College football player, in the chest with the 3½-inch blade of a folding knife.
Wild's parents, Bruce and Jami, and his siblings, Kevin and Shannon, gave victim impact statements Wednesday, attempting to explain the hole in their lives created by Shaun's murder.
Shaun's brother said he still frequently wakes up with a pain in his stomach -- the same pain he felt when he got the phone call saying Shaun had been killed. And his sister said she cries "on a daily basis" over the loss of her brother and best friend.
"I cry knowing the best part of my life is over -- the part when my family was whole," she said.
Shaun's mother said she has to take anxiety medications and she lost her accounting job in December. Now, Jami Wild said she struggles with comprehension and retention in her new position.
Bruce Wild, who said he needs medication to sleep, called the grief "exhausting."
Before the sentencing, Creswell denied a motion for a new trial filed by Olaska's defense attorneys.
DiBenedetto said Olaska has no criminal record and he didn't go to Frankie's Blue Room that night in 2012 "with the intent to harm anybody." He asked for Creswell to hand down the minimum sentence of 20 years for the murder.
But prosecutors, led by Assistant State's Attorney Demetri Demopoulos, tried to paint the defendant as "remorseless" as they asked for a 50-year prison term.
Olaska, sitting next to his attorneys in an orange jail jumpsuit, asked for a tissue after Wild's relatives concluded their remarks. When he made a statement, Olaska said he "certainly never intended to kill Shaun Wild."
"My prayers have been and will continue to be for healing and comfort for everyone affected by my actions," Olaska said.
Olaska's father, Tim, said he echoed his son's words and the arguments defense attorneys made on Olaska's behalf.
Creswell said she found Olaska's remorse to be genuine, but the facts of the case show he was on a "slow boil" for much of the evening after being rejected by a woman. He wasn't "some calm drunk sitting in a bar," but a man who acted with "extreme force" when he stabbed Wild to death, the judge said.
Creswell issued Olaska's sentence two months after a jury found him guilty of Wild's murder, but acquitted him on charges of attempted first-degree murder in the stabbings of the North Central College football player Hayes and Rafael Castenada, a bouncer at the bar.
DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin called Olaska's crime "senseless."
"This case demonstrates the horrific cost, the horrific social cost, of crime in our community," he said.