TAMPA — Mae Jackson came every day last week to the trial of her granddaughter's killer, even though the sight of him brought back flashbacks of 20 months ago.
On Thursday morning, Jackson, 69, again sat about 30 feet from a shackled Cedrick Salter, convicted last Friday of first-degree murder. They each sat in silence, awaiting his sentencing.
"I have to be here to see this," Jackson said, "so I can cry like I want to cry."
Moments later, Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Emmett Battles sentenced Salter, 30, to life in prison without parole.
Jackson's slain granddaughter was Saquanda Simon, 30, a single mother of four who worked two nursing jobs. Simon was shot above her right eye on Sept. 8, 2009, during an argument with Salter, the father of her 18-month-old twins.
Prosecutors said she was holding one of the twins when Salter fired.
Before sentencing, Salter declined to speak. But through his public defender, Greg Hill, he apologized. "He is saddened by events that took place," Hill said.
Denise Salter, the defendant's mother, also offered sympathy to Simon's family.
Salter's family is raising the four surviving children. Jackson said she sees them often. They're doing well, but she said they'll never understand the murder of their mother.
"When they grow up," she said, "they will all have hate in their hearts. And I can't blame them."
After sentencing, the killer's mother and the victim's grandmother hugged.
They both cried.