CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A lot of tears were shed during the plea hearing for 62-year-old Joseph Brown. He was accused of killing Mamie Caldwell Brown, his wife of 20 years.

Yeah I do believe he's sorry for what he did. I don't think he meant to go as far as it went, said Glendolyn Sharpe, the victim s daughter.

She and the rest of the family had a forgiving spirit, and told Brown as much in a Mecklenburg County Courtroom Thursday morning.

Afterward he stood and apologized, and surprised all of them by asking for forgiveness.

I cannot ever replace the loss I ve taken from you. I loved your mom for 25 years. She was my life. I only ask, that today, the healing process will begin for all of you, said Brown.

Ms. Sharpe said the family is ready to move forward.

I do believe him for whatever happened with them we had a great relationship. He was a great father figure. My daughter his granddaughter -- his great grand children .

Mamie Brown was a victim of domestic violence. Prosecutors say she was terrified the last days of her life and said if anything happened to her look at Joseph.

The 71-year-old woman was strangled to death.

Thursday s sentencing was not Brown s first brush with the law. He spent time on death row for the rape and murder of a Florida woman, and a federal judge stopped the execution hours before it was supposed to be carried out.

Brown was eventually freed. In the 80s, he met his wife to be and moved to Charlotte.

Her family advises all victims of domestic violence to get out before it s too late.

Look at the devastation that it left us. We don t have a mother. We never expected her to be gone at 71 years old. She had so much class. She was so smart. She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful sprit, said Sharpe.

Brown pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to spend the next 15 to 18 years in prison.

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