Johnathan Doody, tried three times for the execution-style murders of nine people at a Phoenix-area Buddhist temple, was sentenced to 249 years in prison Friday morning.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer handed down the sentence after members of the victims' families and a representative for the Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple of Arizona spoke in court.
"This was the most heinous crime that could have ever been done against very peaceful, loving monks and people," said Barb Heller who spoke on behalf of the temple. "And, hope the sentence makes him suffer the rest of his life."
Doody, 39, will not be eligible for parole, Kreamer ruled.
"These offenses were committed when you were a boy," said Kreamer. "You're now a man. I hope you are able to find some peace. I hope that the victims, their families and the community can find some peace."
Doody's conviction in January was the third time a jury had to decide his guilt or innocence.
Doody was 19 when he was found guilty in 1993 in the slayings at the Wat Promkunaram temple in 1991, the worst mass murder in Arizona history.
He was sentenced to 281 years in prison after the first conviction.
But an appeals court threw out his conviction in 2011, saying that his confession was coerced by police.
A second trial ended in a mistrial.
In January, he was convicted of nine counts of first-degree murder and 11 other robbery and burglary charges.
The bodies of the temple abbot, five monks, an apprentice monk, a nun and her nephew were found on Aug. 10, 1991, in the West Valley Buddhist temple. All were of Thai descent.
Family members of the victims said Friday's sentence offers some consolation.
"I guess justice has been served," said Anna Maria Gutierrez Miller. "But in the long run that's not enough for us, because we don't have those smiles; those hugs. He can't take it back."
As for Doody's family, his father said he is not at peace with his son spending the rest of his life behind bars.
"We still believe in his innocence and we always will believe in his innocence," said Brian Doody.
Doody's friend, Alex Garcia, is serving a 270-year sentence for the killings.
Garcia was the state's star witness in the first trial. He testified that Doody was the one who shot the nine people execution style.
Doody's attorney, Maria Schaffer, argues his latest conviction hinged on Garcia's false testimony and said she will appeal the sentence.
"There are no winners in this case," said Schaffer. "The entire situation is just tragic and there's no way to make it right."
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