The hurt will remain, but a no-contest plea might allow the family of murder victim Karen Gerholt a chance to move on, knowing that her killer will spend the rest of his days behind bars.
John Gerholt of Mount Union last week pleaded no contest to murder for his estranged wife's 2008 death in a parking lot at the McDonald's in Everett. John Gerholt, 42, shot Karen, then 24, with a freshly sawed-off shotgun while she was on a break from her job at the restaurant.
Karen left behind three young children - 8 and 4 years old and 18 months old at the time of her death. John Gerholt was the father of the two youngest children.
In exchange for the no-contest plea, prosecutors dropped a plan to seek the death penalty and dismissed other charges against the defendant.
In court, John Gerholt expressed remorse for the killing.
"I just hope one day that my family can forgive me. If they don't, I will understand," he said.
Whether they can take that step is a decision that individual family members will have to make if and when they are ready.
While nothing can ease the loss they feel as a result of Karen's death, at least, the plea will spare family members the pain associated with going through a trial and the inevitable appeals that usually come with a conviction.
John Gerholt likely will have decades in a prison cell to think about his horrible actions that fateful November day, a senseless act that not only brought the end to his freedom but also resulted in so much pain and grief for the family and friends of Karen Gerholt.
Prison is where he belongs.