NEWARK - The gunman convicted of murdering a Seton Hall student and wounding four others at a party has been sentenced to 95 years in prison.
The judge told Nicholas Welch committed an "evil act" that deserved harsh punishment, and that is what the 29-year-old received.
Welch was convicted in March of murdering Seton Hall sophomore Jessica Moore and wounding four others in 2010. He had been turned away from an off-campus party and after fighting with the bouncers, then returned to the home with a gun and opened fire.
Prosecutors argued for a maximum sentence, citing Welch's 10 previous arrests on drug offenses and long juvenile record. Moore's family said there is no forgiving what he did to the honor student from Virginia. "He issued Jessica the harshest sentence his hand could impose," says her father, James Moore. "He issued her a death sentence."
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One of the women who was shot in the face that night returned to speak at his sentencing. "I'm afraid of everything," Nakeisha Vanterpool told the court. "I'm afraid of my shadow. I'm afraid to be alone. Whenever I close my eyes I pray that no one ever has to know the feeling or know what it sounds like... for people to be fighting for their lives in an apartment like I did when those shots rang out."
Welch and members of his family also spoke at the hearing and maintain that he is innocent. "I just want to let you all know that your daughter's blood, nobody's blood is on my hands," Welch says. "I wasn't the shooter. I swear I wasn't."
Welch must serve at least 89 years of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.