Watson, 18, admitted his guilt on Friday. In court, he read a letter to the victim's family. He said, " I know what I did was wrong. I'm sorry for putting everyone through this. I never wanted to hurt anyone."
Watson pushed Katona-King, 68, down the stairs at the Fullerton stop as he ran away after stealing an iPhone from a CTA passenger on March 28, 2011. She died the next day. He was charged with her murder on August 10, 2011.
In exchange for his guilty plea to first-degree murder, Watson was sentenced to 32 years in prison. He also received a concurrent sentence of 8 years for guilty pleas to two counts of robbery.
"He has always expressed remorse for this. He never intended to kill anyone. Like the judge said, he did not go out there with murder in his heart," Susan Smith, attorney for Watson, said.
For the better part of the past two years, Katona-King's family has come to court for every hearing. They chose not to talk on camera Friday, but Kimberly Katona gave an impact statement about her mom.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think about her," she said. "Sometimes in my dreams. . . I would see her falling down those stairs, and I would desperately try to catch her and save her, always failing to do so."
"It's not something that's going away, but they no longer have to come here, or feel compelled to come here every court date and be reminded over and over as to what happened," Assistant State's Attorney Christa Bowden said.
More disturbing for the Vitim's family is that Watson continued to snatch and grab phones after knowing he'd caused Katona-King's death.
"He thought no one would get hurt because he didn't carry a weapon and then after someone did get killed, he continued to think no one would get hurt," Smith said.
Katona-King was known as an active church member who helped the homeless.