GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who stabbed and killed a woman near Rockford and injured her two children will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jacob Ryan was sentenced Thursday to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and between 37 years, six months and 60 years for two counts of assault with intent to kill murder. He received credit for 587 days served. The sentences run concurrently.

Authorities say Ryan stabbed Ciara Paul to death on Sept. 15, 2021, at her home on Cannon Place Drive NE of Myers Lake Avenue in Cannon Township. Her two children, then ages 2 and 5, were injured. Ryan was arrested later the same day at a bus station in Toledo, Ohio. He was convicted by a jury last month.

The courtroom was filled with Paul’s family members to hear his sentence pronounced. Paul’s sister, Acacia Ramirez, told the judge that Paul’s children were scarred for life.

“Now they have to live and grow up without a mom,” she said.

Crying, she said she would miss talking to her sister every day and regretted all the things Paul would miss out on.

Ramirez’s adoptive mother, Lynne Ramirez, said the family took comfort in knowing that Jesus was with Paul when she died.

“We believe she died to trying to save the children that she loved so dearly. That makes her a hero in our eyes,” Lynne Ramirez said. “We pray for them every day and know that they were spared by a loving God for a purpose. We also pray that the bitterness we feel toward Mr. Ryan will be transformed into forgiveness, not for his sake but for ours.”

Paul’s aunt, Effie Threats, said Ryan took something “precious.”

“I just want to know who gave him the right to end her life so horribly, to end her life at all? And not only that, my niece and nephew had to be a witness of that, your honor. I am so frustrated that I cannot look at this man and tell this man how I feel about what he did to my family,” Threats said. “I just don’t understand why he had to do what he did to her. It was not right, your honor. It’s wasn’t right.”

Ryan’s attorney said his client had a good heart and wanted to be a beneficial member of society. He said they didn’t agree with the jury’s verdict but respected it and were prepared to respect the judge’s sentence.

Given the chance to speak, Ryan said he knew what he did was wrong.

“I know I made a horrible choice. I know I got to live with the consequences day after day,” Ryan said. “I know that I’ve did something that cannot be forgiven. And one day I will have to answer for what I’ve done. There’s nothing that I can say that can make anybody feel any better.”

He wondered at the extra time he would get for the assault charges, saying the mandatory sentence of life without parole meant he would never be free again, anyway. After he said that, there was an outburst from the gallery, with one person saying, “Monster!”

“I do have to own up for my charge and I will do my time,” Ryan said. “It is what it is. I’ll survive.”

As the judge announced the sentence of life without parole, someone in the gallery said, “Thank you, Jesus.”

*Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified Lynne Ramirez as Paul’s adoptive mother. She is actually the adoptive mother of Acacia Ramirez. We regret the error, which has been fixed.