A Tarrant County District Court judge sentenced Ricci Bradden, 24, to 75 years in prison for the May 2016 murder of Anthony "T.J." Antell outside a Walgreens in Arlington.
District Court Judge Louis Sturns also sentenced Bradden to 20 years on a second charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Sturns said the sentences will run concurrently and Bradden will receive credit for time he has already served.
The sentencing came after two-and-a-half hours of testimony by relatives of Bradden and of Antell on Thursday morning.
Assistant District Attorney Page Simpson called Antell's wife, Crystal Antell, to the stand.
Antell gave tearful testimony about how her children have struggled to find a sense of normalcy since his death.
"My children can't do normal things. We can't even go to a corner store without them asking, "Is that the store where daddy was killed?" said Crystal. "No one is the same. How do I fix that?"
Simpson went a step further to make the state's case to Sturns that Bradden deserved the stiffest possible punishment — a life sentence for murder and 20 years for aggravated assault. She brought Antell's mother, Susan Polson, to the stand and exhibited a collection of photos of Antell at different points of his life.
Moments with his children, his accomplishments as an executive chef and the most painful of all, the moment Polson saw her son's body at the crime scene.
"I saw his feet and a sheet covering his face," Polson said weeping. "I begged with the officers, 'I need to see my baby just one more time.'"
Polson did not get to see him before he was taken away by EMS. Sniffles and weeping of the more than a two dozen family members were clearly audible in the courtroom.
Earlier, Assistant District Attorney Allenna Bangs summoned Bradden's ex-wife Quinisha Johnson to the stand. She testified about controlling behavior Bradden exhibited during their 3-year relationship, and recalled an incident in Dallas County in which they got into an argument that escalated to the point that he later shot up her mother's house.
"I heard his Mustang and I know the sound of his car," said Johnson. "Then we heard gunshots hit my house and the car sped off. We went outside and saw bullet holes in my mom's trunk and the bricks of the house."
Although he was not arrested in connection with that incident she said he later confided in her about committing the crime.
Johnson elaborated on Bradden's use of marijauna and experimenting with other types of drugs. She tearfully recalled an incident after a family party where he choked her until she blacked out. She claimed that the argument stemmed from him using her thumb print to open her cellphone and found text messages from another man during a period they were separated.
"He was choking me and watching me cry and beg for him to stop," said Johnson. "I fell to the ground and just remember waking up later."
Despite the arguments and both later enrolling in anger management classes, she refused to alert police about his behavior.
"I never wanted him to go to jail. I never wanted to see him behind bars," said Johnson. "I tried. I believed he would change. I thought the person I loved was still there."
After the testimony, Judge Sturns wasted no time in issuing his sentence. Bradden's attorney did not immediately say whether he would appeal.