A Colorado Springs man was sentenced Monday to 65 years in prison in the fatal stabbing of a handyman who caught him burglarizing a neighbor's apartment.
Isaiah Ramon Jackson, 21, received the maximum penalty available after pleading guilty last year to second-degree murder and first-degree burglary in the death of Greg Martin. He had faced at least 45 years under a plea agreement.
"Mr. Jackson, you made a mess of things," 4th Judicial District Judge Robert Lowery said after a two-hour hearing punctuated by tearful outbursts among relatives of both the victim and defendant.
Martin, 46, was stabbed in the chest Feb. 15 during a confrontation with Jackson at the Park Ridge Apartments near Palmer Park, where Jackson lived with his wife and both Martin and his brother, John Martin, worked in building maintenance.
Police say the men saw Jackson emerge from someone else's apartment and quickly confronted him, with Greg Martin brandishing a small fire extinguisher.
After getting on his knees as instructed, Jackson waited nearly a minute before lunging at Greg Martin with the knife.
He took off running but eventually surrendered to police in Palmer Park.
During Monday's sentencing, one of Jackson's public defenders, Pat Behan, asked Lowery to impose a sentence on the lower end of the spectrum, calling the stabbing a "spur-of-the-moment" act for which Jackson had taken responsibility.
Prosecutor Gail Warkentin countered by playing jail phone calls in which Jackson discusses the killing in a flat tone and voices regret over having to abandon what he called his "original story" that the stabbing was inadvertent to accept a plea deal.
Jackson also was suspected in a series of earlier burglaries at the apartment complex after police found stolen items in his apartment.
His attorneys say a friend committed the earlier crimes, with direction from Jackson, and then shared some of the proceeds.
In a tearful apology to the court, Jackson said he would accept any punishment he was given and that he "prays every day" for his victims.
"A cherished life was cut short because of me, your honor," he said.
Relatives of Martin remembered him as a loving father of two children, ages 14 and 21, and a devoted brother to John Martin, whom he considered his best friend.
His mother, Joy Martin, recalled how her son once volunteered to coach an aspiring Little League player who couldn't hear or speak. Together, they developed hand signals and turned the boy's dream into a reality.
"He walked away from the season with a glow about him," she said.
"That's the kind of boy I raised."
Joy Martin said she has forgiven Jackson even as the family thinks daily of their loss.