BEDFORD - Moments before a Bedford County judge sentenced him Tuesday to life in prison for murder, Mark Allen Shirey said he'd warned his victim years before that he would one day end the man's life.
Shirey, 45, gunned down Michael Simpson - whom he called "Mike" throughout a lengthy courtroom speech - in March 2011 after a years-long enmity revolving around Shirey's ex-wife.
"I told him that if he interfered [with my family] ... that I would take his life for that," Shirey said Tuesday, in a final speech that alternated between tearful apologies to his children and defiant recollections of the rage he felt toward his ex-wife's boyfriend.
"My only explanation is my anger," he said, asking President Judge Thomas Ling to use his story as a cautionary tale in domestic court. "This all started with wrongs and ended with wrongs."
Shirey's hatred for Simpson, whom he accused of stealing his wife and four children, ran deep: Nine years after an assault conviction for attacking Simpson in Maryland, Shirey broke into his rival's Centerville home and waited in the dark with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .22-caliber pistol.
When Simpson returned home the evening of March 26, 2011, Shirey cut him down, firing six shotgun shells and four bullets before he fled to dispose of his guns and bloodstained clothes.
"I felt I had the right to be angry. Even though he is dead, I'm still struggling with the anger in my life," Shirey said.
Shirey's ex-wife, with whom he had four children, looked directly at the murderer as her parents sat nearby.
"You could never see your own faults," she said. "You did the ultimate this time. You left six children without a father. You left parents without a son. For what? For what? I hope you've accomplished what you wanted to."
Shirey, dressed in a blue collared shirt and prison-issued shoes, didn't have a reaction when District Attorney Bill Higgins noted that the victim's family had requested his imprisonment as far from Bedford County as possible - nor when Ling confirmed his life sentence, secured in place of execution through a guilty plea.
Asked whether he had any final words to add, Shirey looked his ex-wife in the eyes.
"I'll pay for this the rest of my life," he said.
She answered quietly: "Yes, you will."