Gasps arose. And then, "You make me sick," said Lori's sister as she ran out of the courtroom in tears.

Deschutes County Circuit Judge Michael Adler told Steven he didn't have much to say to him, except this:.

"What you decide to do is come up with this bizarre story about how she wanted to be buried at sea to justify your act of dumping her body in the North Santiam River," the judge said. "I didn't know you could top so far what you've displayed in this case, but you did today."

Blaylock's defense testimony took only about a day, and he did not take the stand. His lengthy statement in court Thursday likely indicated why.

And with that, Judge Adler told Steven Blaylock he'd spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Jurors took only six hours to convict Blaylock, rejecting his defense lawyers' claim that his wife died during an alcohol-fueled struggle when she fell off the bed and onto the back of her neck. While extensive searches of the North Santiam River never found the woman's body, Blaylock led police to a spot by the river where some of her clothes were recovered.

"I'm not trying to justify my actions here, about what I'm about to say," Blaylock said, "but this was no preconceived -- it's what happened. It's what I did.

"I'm very sorry. If I could change what happened that day, I would."

"I am not some born-again Christian, and neither was Lori," he continued. "She really wanted her ashes spread in space by NASA -- obviously that wasn't going to happen."

Lori's friends and family had the chance to tell Steven Blaylock how they felt.

Her 18-year-old niece told of how the killer ruined her innocence, and how she now has trouble relating to or trusting anybody.

And one of Lori's closest friends, Rocky Hartman, talked about damaging the past year has been, and how she had sought counseling, not for coping with her cancer, but dealing with the loss of her friend.

In imposing a life sentence, Adler told Blaylock that he had shown no remorse, including in the police interview tapes.

He also said how he'd badly hurt so many lives with his actions.

Blaylock's lawyers did not want him to do an in-person interview from jail, but he called me this afternoon, insisting on a phone interview to tell his side of the story.

I asked Blaylock if his story would ever change, and he said it would not: "My story is not a story, it's fact."

"Her friends are going to be the ones not able to sleep at night, because they know what happened. They know about the attack," he said, still insisting that his wife had attacked him in his sleep and was killed in an awkward fall off the bed, onto the back of her neck.

As for what he'd said in court, Blaylock told me how he'd be caught off-guard by what his victim's family had to say.

"I was going to thank my friends and family for being there," he said. "I wasn't necessarily going to apologize, to really anybody. And I had a couple scriptures that I read -- I read the 'Daily Bread' every morning. And there was a good one, and I read part of it, and then I spaced it out. I really was caught off-guard with what was said about me, and I was in shock, after they said that my family was endangering her (Lori's sister, Cindy Wright)," sounding incredulous at the very notion of that.

After the sentencing, District Attorney Patrick Flaherty held a news conference outside his office on the case, touting the teamwork that brought Blaylock to justice.

He credited the countless hours spent by police and his office in their investigation. He also thanked Linn County Search and Rescue team members for helping look for Lori Blaylock's body.

In his first public comments on the case outside the trial, Flaherty said not having the victim's body was a challenge, but not enough to derail the case.

"As prosecutors in a no-body murder case, we always have some level of anxiety," the DA said. "But it was a very powerful case."

Flaherty was joined by officials from the Bend-based non-profit Saving Grace, which helps domestic abuse victims. They highlighted the need for people to speak up about domestic violence and take advantage of the resources available to them.

Flaherty lamented that it's hard to look back and realize a death like this did not have to happen.