A Navy recruiter from Downers Grove, Ill. who allegedly stabbed his estranged pregnant wife to death in 2010 was sentenced on two separate murder charges for the incident that took place in front of his stepdaughter on her fourth birthday.
Eric Gilford, 32, who pleaded guilty to the murders in June, was sentenced to 50 years for the first-degree murder of his wife Kristine Gilford, and another 50 years for intentional homicide of their unborn son, to be served consecutively, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Kristine was 20 weeks pregnant at the time of her death
Prosecutors say Kristine Gilford had left her husband and moved into a former boyfriend's apartment in Villa Park with her daughter, Gracie, who is not Eric Gilford's biological child, according to the Chicago Tribune. Police say Gilford, believing his wife had been unfaithful, burst into the apartment on May 26, 2010 and stabbed Kristine 16 times in front of her daughter, Gracie, who was turning four that day. A neighbor saw Gracie wandering the apartment hall soaked in her mother's blood, leading Villa Park police to Kristine, who identified her husband as her assailant.
“(For Gracie,) every birthday will be a reminder of the day she saw the bad man stab her mother to death in front of her,” Kristine's father, Dennis Courtney said, in a statement at the trial, according to the Suburban Life. He later added, "If our daughter had died from illness, I could have understood that. If our daughter had died in combat, I could have understood that... but to die in this senseless act of rage and violence, I cannot understand or accept. Unfortunately, you cannot give us back our daughter, nor Gracie her mother. But you can give us some closure, you can give us justice."
Eric Gilfor's psychologist, Dr. John Murray, testified that Gilford claimed to have heard voices starting in 2005, Suburban Life reports. Murray said Gilford knew they were hallucinations and said he was able to cope with them, but that Gilford told him in September voices commanded him to "stab her, stab her," which Murray believed played a role in the attack.
The 13-year Navy veteran fled Chicago, using records from a recruit to conceal his identity, and was arrested about 10 weeks later at a Jackson, Wyo., homeless shelter, the Tribune reports.
"I want to apologize to the family and friends of Kristine and Gracie," Gilford said in court, according to the Suburban Life. "I think about it every day and I wish I could go back and change it. I am sorry."