ALLISON, Iowa (CBS/AP) After several emotional statements by Ed Thomas' family, an Iowa judge sentenced convicted killer Mark Becker to life in prison for the June, 2009 shooting death of the iconic high school football coach.
Thomas' oldest son, Todd, spoke first.
"Every day as you live in jail, I want you to reflect on what you stole from us," he said, his pregnant wife standing beside him.
Ed Thomas was Becker's football coach in high school but hadn't been in contact with Becker for nearly six years before Becker gunned him down in the school weight room in front of 20 terrified students.
Becker told police that Thomas was Satan and that the coach had been tormenting him. Four mental health experts testified during his trial that Becker suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.
The question of why Becker's delusions focused on Thomas remains unanswered. The jury rejected Becker's insanity defense and convicted him of first degree murder in March, which carried with it a mandatory life sentence.
Ed Thomas' youngest son, Aaron, said in court Wednesday his father allowed Becker back onto the high school football team after the then-14-year-old was caught with drugs. Aaron Thomas said he didn't understand his father's decision but was told, "Mark needs football more than football needs Mark."
Before formally handing down the sentence District Court Judge Stephen Carroll told Becker he hoped he realized his actions have affected the lives of countless people.
Carroll noted that Thomas, a nationally known coach, often spoke of the choices individuals made, saying " Coach Thomas was right, Mr. Becker. We are free to choose, that is what makes us human. That freedom to choose means freedom to choose good and freedom to choose evil."
Aaron Thomas echoed those words saying, "It's too bad you made the choices you made. You'll never understand how much you hurt our family, nor do I think you care."
Public defender Susan Flander said Becker will appeal the verdict.
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