Willding walked into her family's home as Christenson was robbing the place on July 14, 2004, police said. An officer testified that Christenson showed him how he stabbed the victim repeatedly.
Willding's family members gave impact statements during the emotional sentencing hearing. "A part of me died with her," said Gigi Willding, victim's mother. "Just the invertible thought of never being able to talk or hold my daughter and then to find her stabbed 43 times. It's just unbearable."
"I don't think you can ever have closure on something like this. But we don't have to go through it anymore," said Courtney Willding, victim's sister.
"My only wish is he doesn't see the light of day," said Scott Pregent, Gigi Willding's fiancé.
Christenson's father, Daniel, also spoke at the hearing. He said his son was a bright, young man who has a mental illness and behavioral problems. Daniel Christenson told the Willding family he was sorry and then went to the victim's father. The men embraced and started to cry.
Christenson faced a maximum sentence of 60 years.
"There is no question he will get time off, because he does have legitimate mental issues. In our opinion, it was aggravated by his use of drugs and it's a voluntary activity he should have avoided," said Mike Mermel, prosecutor.