MIAMI (CBSMiami) - A man convicted of killing his ex-wife 20 years ago, even though her body has never been found, was sentenced to life in prison.
Clifford Friend was found guilty of second degree murder in July 2014 in connection to the death of his ex-wife Lynn Friend.
Circuit Judge judge Teresa Pooler handed down the sentenced which exceeds the state guidelines of 22 years for second degree murder.
"The evidence showed you committed a monstrous act," said Pooler. "Her life was precious and you took that from her. You dumped her in the ocean like a sack of trash. This was unspeakable cruelty. This was a despicable act. I will sentence you to life in prison."
Friend showed no immediate emotion following the sentencing.
Earlier, his wife of 19 years, Janet Friend, pleaded for mercy.
"His smile," she said as she broke in tears, "his guidance and his presence as a father will be missed. I'm requesting you to consider that he had no criminal history and was an oustanding citizen, phenomenal father and wonderful husband."
Friend's son Christian also spoke for the first time saying his father is innocent.
"He raised us to know the difference between right and wrong," said Christian Friend. "I know he loved me. He loved too much to hurt me by taking my mother from me. After sitting here for weeks, I have never been more sure of his innocence."
Lynne Friend's fiance at the time, Ed O'Dell also testified on Thursday.
"We were told it took 3 to 5 minutes to strangle her. I would bet it took 5 minutes because she was a very healthy person," said O'Dell. "I think he deserved the death penalty.I would like to see him hanged by the neck until he is dead."
Assistant State Attorney Michael Von Zamft said, "It's what we wanted. The life sentence is the only appropriate sentence in this case. It's not a victory because it will not bring back Lynne Friend."
Defense Attorney Peter Heller said he was "shocked" that the Judge was able to find aggravating factors that this was a "cruel and heinous crime." He said there was no proof of that.
Surrounded by friends and family members, Clifford Friend's son Christian and his wife Janet court without saying anything, following the sentencing.
Clifford Friend was silent as he was escorted through a hallway back to jail.
During Friend's trial Alan Gold, a friend of Friend, testified that he helped Clifford dump Lynn's body in the ocean. Gold received immunity for his testimony.
Prosecutors said the night she died Lynne went over to her estranged husband's home to pick up a child support check. She had just won custody of their five-year-old son.
The jury believed Friend strangled Lynne, enraged that she would be the one to raise him. He then recruited Gold to help him get rid of the body.
Friend was charged with first degree murder, but the jury came back with a lesser charge.
Friend plans to appeal his sentence.
for more features.