BROOKSVILLE — Sylvia Clark turned to the man who killed her sister. Finally, the time had come to confront him.
Clark told Alan Osterhoudt Jr. that his marriage to Maria Osterhoudt should have never happened. Clark said she knows Osterhoudt murdered her only sister, even though a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.
"God's going to take care of you," Clark said. "I hope you get the maximum, and I hope you live to survive it, 'cause taking you away is not going to make it right, but letting you suffer will."
A few moments later Tuesday afternoon, Hernando Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti did levy the maximum punishment, sentencing Osterhoudt without comment to 30 years in prison. The punishment is effectively a life sentence for the 63-year-old former air-conditioning repairman.
Prosecutors tried to convince a jury last month that Osterhoudt committed second-degree murder when he shot his wife in the back of the head during an argument at their Spring Hill home in February 2012. The 65-year-old St. Petersburg College professor died instantly.
Jurors heard a 911 call Osterhoudt made that night. In a calm, flat voice, he told the operator he had just shot his wife — "the most heinous thing I've done in my life."
When the operator asked why, Osterhoudt said they'd had an argument.
Osterhoudt took the stand and said he was dozing in his bedroom when he awoke to the couple's dog barking, then heard a noise in the master bathroom. He grabbed his .38-caliber Taurus revolver from the nightstand, turned a corner to the bathroom and pulled the trigger when he was startled by "a form" that turned out to be his wife.
The jury decided there wasn't enough evidence to convict Osterhoudt of second-degree murder, finding him guilty of manslaughter with a firearm.
On Tuesday, Assistant State Attorney Bill Catto argued that Osterhoudt deserved the maximum sentence, even if he did just kill his wife by being careless with a gun.
Defense attorney Kenneth Foote asked Tatti to depart from the minimum prison term of 10 years because the crime was isolated and unsophisticated, and because Osterhoudt was remorseful and advanced in age.
Thin and stooped in his orange jail garb, Osterhoudt offered a tearful apology but remained steadfast in his account of what happened that night.
"This was not intentional, Sylvia," he said. "My life is over, I knew that, but I'm not a monster."
Maria Osterhoudt's son, Raymond Carter, never believed his stepfather's story. Carter said he was happy with the sentence and for the chance to finally close a painful chapter.
"The family can now can work on us, building our relationship back," Carter said. "Maybe this year Thanksgiving can be happy and we can be thankful for what we do have, compared to how it was before, with everyone still so stuck on what we've been through."
Tony Marrero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.