A judge sentenced a former trash company supervisor to life in prison without parole Friday for strangling six women in the 1980s.
It was the only sentence possible for Lorenzo Gilyard, 56, who was convicted last month of murder. Prosecutors had agreed in January not to seek the death penalty if Gilyard's attorneys agreed to a trial before a judge without a jury.
Gilyard's attorneys also agreed to give up nearly all of their client's appeal rights.
"He's forfeited any right to live here among the rest of us," Judge John O'Malley said. "That's the comfort we can derive."
O'Malley said there was a chance the women would have turned their lives around, "except he stole it from them."
Gilyard was linked to the killings in 2004 as police crime lab workers tested evidence from old unsolved cases.
Much of the testimony at his trial dealt with DNA evidence. Prosecutors said Gilyard's semen was found on six of the women. The defense contended the evidence merely proved Gilyard had sex with the women, most of whom were prostitutes — not that he killed them.
Family members of the victims spoke prior to Gilyard's sentencing.
Tricia Mitchell, whose sister, Catherine Barry, was the only victim not a prostitute, wore her sister's favorite color, turquoise, and spoke about how her sister cared for her and her siblings growing up.
"I was afraid of everything and she wasn't afraid of anything," Mitchell said, adding that she grieves that her daughters never got a chance to know their aunt. "Gilyard took that away from them and for that, I will never forgive him."
Gilyard had faced 13 counts of murder, but six of those counts, including one stemming from the death of an Austrian national, were dropped. Prosecutors could refile those charges later.
Jackson County District Judge John O'Malley acquitted Gilyard of one count of murder. O'Malley said prosecutors had provided him with only suspicions that Gilyard killed Angela Mayhew, not convincing proof. Mayhew, 19, was found dead on Sept. 12, 1987. Hers was the only body that didn't contain semen, though one of Gilyard's hairs was found on her sweater.