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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — On his seventh wedding anniversary he brutally beat his wife before killing her. But would William Keith Waters spend the rest of his life in prison for committing this crime?

He learned his fate today after pleading guilty in New Hanover County Court.

"We’ll always remember Kay for the love that she had for other people and the love that she had and that she showed it in a way that you can tell it with her friends," said Betty Humbles Brown, the mother of murder victim Kay Humbles.

Humbles’s family came to the New Hanover County Courthouse not for the sentencing of Waters in her 2011 murder, but to take a stand against domestic violence.

"This cycle of abuse can be broken through reporting and through punishment, or it can tragically end after the abuse can no longer take place because the victim is no longer with us," District Attorney Ben David said.

Prosecutors say Waters beat his wife until he knocked her out then slit her throat.

Members of the Humbles family spoke to her murderer in court, saying he killed her not in their Castle Hayne home in November 2011, but little by little every day of their marriage.

"She was such a sweet, loving person that no one will know how much we will miss her and how it has broken our hearts, but we will survive with her in our hearts," Brown said.

"I learned long ago from other victims’ families that some wounds never heal," David said. "The loss of a child, the loss of a sister, the loss of a mother is something that doesn’t heal in an emotional sense, but in a legal one we have closure today."

In exchange for pleading guilty on second degree murder charges Waters will receive between 180 and 225 months in prison, but his victim’s family says that his final judgement still awaits.

"It’s not up to us," Brown said. "We will not be the judge and no one in the court system will be the judge. It will be up to God."

David asks that if you are the victim of domestic violence to reach out to law enforcement for help.

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