PORTLAND -- As a distraught Mark Thomas shuffled into his sentencing Tuesday afternoon, there was no way of knowing everyone inside would leave with a better understanding of forgiveness.
The lesson came from the widow of the man Thomas pled guilty to killing.
"I've dealt with my feelings over the last five months and this is what I've come to and this is how I feel," said Holly McCormick.
McCormick lost her husband in June after a horrific crash on Highway 30. Wayne McCormick was a few miles outside of Scappoose when somebody crossed the center line and slammed into him.
That somebody was Thomas. Prosecutors say he was drunk and high.
"I've never felt so awful in my entire life," said Thomas. "The fact that I took another human's life will haunt me forever."
Thomas pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide. The judge could have put him away for up to a decade, but the victim's wife argued for a much more lenient sentence. She lobbied for only a year, followed by a treatment program she would foot the bill for.
"This comes from my heart," said McCormick. "I've spent the last few months grieving my husband, knowing he would want Mark to heal and become a new person."
The judge acknowledged Holly McCormick's extraordinary compassion. He said the community must know this criminal behavior will not be tolerated. He sentenced Thomas to five years behind bars.
Thomas accepts the punishment, along with forgiveness from the woman whose life he changed forever.
"I will honor Mr. McCormick and his entire family for the rest of my life."