Army Staff Sergeant Gets 7 Life Terms for Killing Officer and His Wife

A jury spared his life in October when it deadlocked on whether he should get the death penalty

An Army staff sergeant convicted of killing his wife and a rookie police officer in 2016 was formally sentenced Thursday to seven consecutive life sentences. 

Ronald Hamilton is set to spend life in prison for killing Officer Ashley Guindon and his wife, Crystal Hamilton. Guindon was working her first shift when she responded to a domestic violence call at the Hamiltons' home in Woodbridge, Virginia. Guindon was 28. Crystal Hamilton was 29. 

Both women's mothers spoke Thursday about the past three years they've spent coping with their daughters' murders. 

Guindon's heartbroken mother called Hamilton a "vicious, cold-blooded, heartless killer." 

Crystal Hamilton's mother nearly collapsed in the witness box. 

"My heart is bleeding. He took everything. He's a coward ... He shot my daughter in the back," she said. 

Hamilton wept in court but did not speak. 

A jury in Manassas deadlocked in October on whether Hamilton deserved the death penalty

Two officers, Jesse Hempen and David McKeown, who responded to the Hamilton home along with Guindon also were shot. They suffered serious injuries but survived.

Through the course of the two-month trial, jurors learned that Hamilton had been angered that his wife planned to attend a male dance revue with her girlfriends, and that Hamilton had vowed to prevent her from attending prior to the fatal shooting.

During a confrontation in the couple's Woodbridge home, Crystal Hamilton called 911 for help after her husband threw her into a wall and slammed her to the floor. Jurors heard the 911 call which ended with Crystal Hamilton pleading, "Stop!" Prosecutors say Ronald Hamilton shot his wife four times with a Glock handgun, all while the couple's 11-year-old son was in the home.

Several officers responded to the 911 call. The officers tried to enter the house to check on Crystal Hamilton's welfare, but Ronald Hamilton refused to let them in. One of the officers then kicked open the front door, only to find Hamilton crouched with an AK-47 rifle opening fire. All three officers who initially responded to the home were struck. Hempen and McKeown testified at the trial, and attended arguments as well.

Hamilton's history of violent behavior was evident years before the fatal shootings in February 2016, prosecutors previously said, citing several instances of road rage, including one in which Hamilton confronted a police officer. They also cited an assault by Hamilton on a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, though Hamilton avoided charges in that case.

Cherry Murphy, Crystal Hamilton's mother, described life without her daughter as hell. 

"It's hard for me to get out there and start a day without thinking of her," she said. "Sometimes I don't get up." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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