There were a flood of tears outside Onondaga County court Thursday morning as the mother of a Syracuse woman murdered got some closure in her daughter's death.
But Patricia Alexander is still left with so much pain and so many questions. Her daughter, Sharon Nugent's body was never found. She addressed the court as the man who took her life was sent off to prison.
The sentencing marked the end of an emotional seven years for her family as Alexander faced James Guilford in court. "He has robbed my daughter of the chance to see how beautiful they are and love them and to nurture them and to care. I am a loving grandmother, but I can never replace a mother's love."
Alexander stayed composed as she spoke directly to the man who took her first born. She had hoped time would help erase the pain, but Nugent's body has never been found and the agony of not knowing has left her heartbroken. "I cry everyday wondering if I'll ever recover her body. It pains me not to be able to say goodbye and in some way I will forever keep hoping that I will have that opportunity to say goodbye to my child someday."
Nugent was last seen alive in 2007. She never got a chance to say goodbye to her children. Guilford was their father and was later convicted of stabbing Nugent to death, then tossing her body in a garbage dumpster like a piece of trash. "You treated Sharon Nugent like a piece of garbage. There are no reasons, no excuse for what you've done," said Judge Anthony Aloi. "If I had in my power Mr. Guilford, I would sentence you to spend the rest of your life in a garbage dumpster," he said.
With his head down, Guilford had nothing to say as the judge imposed the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. Outside court, the family's pastor thought of the children. "It's sad also for these children who have lost not only a mother but a father in there. So there really are no winners in there today," said Pastor Daren Jaime of the People's AME Zion Church.
In January, Guilford was found guilty for the second time. The State Court of Appeals threw out the original 2008 conviction last June, ruling Guilford's 49-hour sleepless interrogation by Syracuse Police violated his rights. The court cited "actual coercion inherent" in that marathon session, as tag team of detectives questioned him, before placing him in a cell for eight hours.
Guilford ultimately confessed to the crime in the presence of his lawyer, saying he put Nugent's body in a garbage container. The confession was not used during the recent retrial. Police think Nugent's body burned before they found out what happened.