TACOMA, Wash. -- Austin Moores Nelson, 20, pleaded guilty Friday to killing his ex-girlfriend’s mom last January. He was sentenced to 42 years, 8 months in prison.
Moores Nelson apologized in court Friday and took full responsibility for killing his ex-girlfriend’s mom, Teresa Ryan.
“I’m sorry for what I did. I’m super sorry to the family and I take full responsibility for what I did,” Moores Nelson said softly.
One of the victim's co-workers told the court, “We all have to live the rest of our lives without her, that’s our sentence that Austin has forced upon all of us,"
Family and friends of Ryan filled the courtroom. Some held her picture as the judge listened to some of the good times they spent with Ryan.
“A lifetime of pain, a lifetime with a hole in our hearts. A lifetime of emptiness that will never be filled,” said the co-worker.
Ryan made a big impact in Pierce County where she worked as a district court clerk for years.
In the same courthouse, Friday, the man charged with killing her changed his plea to guilty.
Moores Nelson admitted to killing Ryan in January outside her Puyallup home. He also admitted to going inside the home to shoot and kill the family dog.
Wendy Michalski, Ryan’s sister, said, “I will only have my memories of her. Words cannot express the pain and anguish of our family."
Weeks before the killing, police said Moores Nelson terrorized his ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him.
Moores Nelson’s attorney, Edward DeCosta, argued his client suffered from a troubled past and had mental illness. However, the judge didn’t buy it and called Moores Nelson a parent’s worst nightmare.
“She was my only sibling and now I have no sibling to grow old with,” added Michalski.
Moores Nelson was sentenced for murder, burglary, animal cruelty and malicious mischief.
“When Teresa died, a part of each one of us died with her. Teresa didn’t ask for this, none of us did,” said Ryan’s friend.
Moores Nelson’s defense attorney was trying to get a lesser sentence but the judge said he felt Moore Nelson’s actions deserved the maximum punishment.
If he serves the full sentence, Moores Nelson, will be in his 60s by the time he’s released.