SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Somehow maintaining her composure, Jackie Watson told the man who killed her 20-year-old daughter of the pain she will always feel.
“The day Jenni-Lyn was born was the beginning of my life,’’ Watson said at Steven Pieper’s sentencing hearing. “Half of me died. I will certainly never be complete. I will limp for the rest of my days.’’
The 21-year-old Pieper, of Liverpool, N.Y., was sentenced yesterday to 23 years to life in prison for killing Jenni-Lyn Watson while she was home from college for Thanksgiving break. Watson, a devotee of dance, had returned home from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., for the holiday the day before she was killed. Her body was found eight days later.
“Mr. Pieper, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in state prison,’’ Onondaga County Judge Anthony Aloi told the defendant. “They will survive. I know they will. But their hearts have been broken forever. You did that.’’
Pieper pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the slaying of his former girlfriend. He admitted strangling and suffocating Watson inside her parents’ home in the town of Clay on Nov. 19 and dumping her body in a nearby park.
Given his chance to speak in the packed courtroom, Pieper called his conduct “cowardly and self-centered,’’ said he was consumed by sorrow, remorse, and grief, and prayed for forgiveness and for Watson and her family to be at peace.