PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There was anger and tears in a New Jersey courtroom Friday as the man convicted of going on a shooting spree in a Clifton church was punished by the judge.
Joseph Pallipurath, of California, showed little emotion as a judge sentenced him to two consecutive life terms without parole in the 2008 shooting that left two people dead — including his estranged wife. He also received a consecutive 20-year sentence for attempted murder for shooting a woman who is now wheelchair-bound for life.
“The court gave him what he deserved, so there’s nothing more we can say,” Suja Auummoottil, the victim’s aunt, said.
But in the moments before Pallipurath was sentenced, the victims’ family said plenty, one by one coming forward, each choking back tears, as they pleaded for the maximum sentence.
“I hope he gets the maximum sentence, and I hope he suffers very, very bad for the rest of his life, and I hope you never get out,” Nijith Kurian, the victim’s best friend, said.
Pallipurath was convicted last month of shooting and killing his estranged wife, 24-year-old Reshma James, inside the vestibule of St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya along with Dennis John, 25, a parishioner who tried to intervene.
Prosecutors say Pallipurath drove across the country to confront his wife, who had left to escape what relatives say was an abusive marriage.
John’s mother was unable to hold back tears as she spoke directly to her son’s killer.
“Nobody can understand or comprehend the feeling, suffering and emptiness that my family and I have to go through,” Aley John, the victim’s mother, said.
James’ aunt used the sentencing as an opportunity to express forgiveness.
“We [the] James family forgive you for all that you have done to Reshma, though a husband like you never deserves that,” Maria Joseph said.
Pallipurath has admitted his guilt but — even now — continues to insist he did not kill anyone intentionally.
“I’d like to say that I’m very sorry for what I did, I didn’t intend to do it, but I had no control over myself that day,” Pallipurath said.
But the judge showed no mercy, sentencing Pallipurath to the maximum punishment.
“There are just some individuals who are cold-blooded killers,” Judge Salem Ahto said. “You’re one of them.”
While Pallipurath will be behind bars in a maximum security prison, his attorney has vowed to appeal, warning the case will likely drag out for years to come.