REDDING, Calif. - Tehama County's John Noonkester was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday morning in the Tehama County Courts. The Victim's family hugged each other in tears saying they finally have closure.
Noonkester was convicted for shooting his ex-wife Kimberlee Thomas and her father Keith outside 'The Little Country Store' in the Lake California gated community in July of 2015. He also left an innocent bystander injured.
Noonkester's attorney's said the shooting happened during an argument over custody of the couple's two daughters.
Throughout the case, the defense argued that he was protecting his daughters from a man he believed Thomas was dating. Noonkester said he thought the man was a threat to his daughters.
In October, a jury found him guilty on all counts. He shouted at the jury blaming them for orphaning his daughters.
Friends and family of Kimberlee and Keith Thomas filled the court room for John Noonkesters sentencing, Thursday. All wearing T-shirts with Kim and Keith's picture.
The judge started by explaining the letters received by the court from various people defending Noonkester. People described him as sensitive, kind hearted, and a smart man. They say the system failed him. Words friends of the victims couldn't believe.
"Flabbergasted that anyone could say that about him," said Kory Farias, Kimberlee's friend. "How can you murder two people and shoot a third innocent person and be a gentle innocent man?"
The judge ultimately said of the letters that someone can do a horrible thing and still have people that remember them doing good things.
A letter was read from one of Noonkester's daughters. In the letter she said "That jerk killed my mother and my grandpa. My mother was the most important person in my life besides my sister she is also one of the most important." and "That man that was my father is no longer. He is a living monster."
"I think all of us were crying hearing her words, but I think it's very important that her letter was read," Farias said. "For him to hear himself how she felt and feels about him."
Keith's older brother, Tim, spoke before the court about his memories of Keith and Kim. He said "Keith stood a little bit taller when talking about his wife and daughter." There wasn't a dry eye in the gallery.
He added that nothing was more important to Kim than her girls. That comment made Noonkester try to walk out of the courtroom.
Just before the sentence was announced, Noonkester lashed out at the prosecutor shouting that he was trying to warn and protect Kimberlee from her boyfriend. Noonkester was removed from the courtroom. He said he didn't want to be present for the rest of the sentencing but was eventually brought back to hear his sentencing from an enclosed area.
The judge sentenced him to four counts of 25 years to life, 14 years for the assault of a bystander, and an additional two counts of life in prison without parole.
The Tehama County District Attorney was satisfied with the judge's decision.
"So, finally today we have justice two and a half years later but nevertheless it's John Noonkester who will receive justice, life without the possibility of parole. He will rot. He will die in jail as he deserves to be."
Farias said his two daughters will live with Kim's mother.
"They're going to be relieved and happy. I mean, you can't find happiness in losing two people tragically the way that they have, but they will be very happy that he will be put away for the rest of his life. They're going to get lots of hugs tonight"