Crimetracker: Curtis Harper sentenced to 30 years

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The courtroom was packed and there were a lot of tears Wednesday as everyone anxiously waited to hear Curtis Harper's sentence. The Thornell and Soto families took the stand, describing their losses to the judge:

"How could this happen and why? And to know that the person responsible didn't even stop. He just left my child and her baby dead. That was truly agonizing. What kind of person does this?" said Stephanie Thornell, Chasity Thornell's mom.

"In my home there is no more happiness. It is not the same anymore," said Elbia Hurcules, Nelson Soto's wife.

Those who know Harper told the judge some of his good qualities like high grades and a strong work ethic. Then Harper addressed the courtroom and apologized.

"I'm so sorry. If there was anything I could do to change what happened that night, I would. I can't bring your loved ones back. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry," said Harper.

The state asked the judge to sentence Harper to the maximum - almost 45 years.

"Anything less does not punish him adequately for these offenses," said Sarah Keith, an Assistant District Attorney.

But in the end, the judge sentenced Harper to 30 years in prison. He'll be eligible for parole after serving 9 years.

"I do feel that it was a just sentence. I think she made the right decision with the time that she has given him. Of course, even though we won, there's still that sense that nobody wins in something like this," said Stephanie Thornell.

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