DANVILLE – When their daughter's murderer was sentenced to 56 years in prison, Kenny and Kathy Divan finally felt relieved.
"This has been a long time coming," Kenny Divan said, following Kenneth Gray's sentencing on Thursday. "Now we can go on and put this part of our lives behind us and move ahead."
"It'll never be over for us," his wife said. But "he's gone, and out of our lives, and we'll never have to see him again."
Vermilion County Circuit Judge Michael Clary sentenced Kenneth Gray to 31 years for first-degree murder in the death of Kimberly Gray and 25 years for an aggravating factor related to the crime being committed with a gun.
Clary ordered that the sentences be served consecutively. Gray must serve the entire time, minus the 537 days he has already been behind bars.
State's Attorney Frank Young argued for the maximum sentence of life, saying Gray was a danger to the public and the stiff sentence was needed to deter others from committing "domestic violence at its worst."
He reminded the court of how angry Gray was when he shot his 34-year-old wife in the couple's Newtown home.
"This is not a crime of passion," Young said, adding Gray shot her 15 times, including once at close range. "This was a crime of control. ... The defendant lost control of Kimberly, and he wasn't going to let that happen."
Gray's attorney, Stanley Hill of Chicago, asked for 20 years, the minimum sentence for murder. He said he still believes his client should have been convicted of the lesser charge of second-degree murder and, therefore, should receive an even lighter sentence.
Gray wept when he was sentenced before a packed courtroom. In a letter to the court, read by his lawyer, he apologized to his children and asked for their forgiveness.
"I'm so sorry for what I've done to you," Hill read. But Gray's two oldest children – Brittney, 14, and Brandon, 12 – shook their heads, and Brandon plugged his ears with his fingers.
While the Divans said they were satisfied with the sentencing, Brandon said he thought it was too lenient.
"Fifty-six years doesn't amount to what he's put us through," Brandon said. "That was Judge Clary's decision."