In a hearing punctuated with emotion, the man who orchestrated the Brooklyn Park home invasion by two teenage brothers that killed his ex-girlfriend was sentenced to life in prison Friday, closing the latest chapter in a case that outraged relatives and community members who successfully pressed Gov. Tim Walz to intervene.

Erick Haynes, 23, received a mandatory life sentence for first-degree intentional murder while committing a felony, less than two weeks after he pleaded guilty to his role in 23-year-old Zaria McKeever's shooting death.

Haynes was previously indicted on two counts of first-degree murder and charged with two counts of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the killing of the mother of his child. As part of his plea deal, the remaining murder counts were dismissed.

Haynes will be eligible for parole after 30 years.

McKeever's family members looked on as Hennepin County Judge William Koch delivered the sentence after a string of tearful victim impact statements. Her mother, Maria Greer, recalled the pain of learning that a man who once called her "Mom" had robbed her of her youngest child — without any regard for the devastation he'd wrought.

"Zaria sure as hell didn't deserve this fate," said Greer, occasionally pausing as her voice strained. "He was supposed to love her, take care of her."

"Protect her!" a supporter called from the gallery.

Greer broke down as she listed the milestones her daughter will miss with her own child. She'll never get to witness 2½-year-old ZaNay-Dior graduate high school or get married, her mother said.

One by one, relatives recounted what they said was the worst day of their lives. How Haynes had refused to accept that McKeever had moved on from their relationship. How a history of abusive behavior culminated in a plot to confront McKeever's new boyfriend. How, on Nov. 8, 2022, Haynes gave two boys a firearm he'd bought, then ordered them inside the Brooklyn Park apartment complex, where they kicked in the door. Instead of the new boyfriend, they found McKeever. The 15-year-old fired the fatal shots.

She never made it to the hospital.

"He brought evil to her doorstep," her father, Presly McKeever, told the court as a slideshow of pictures of the victim flashed on a large-screen TV beside him.

The retired Army veteran reminisced about the year that McKeever lived with him when her mother was deployed in Iraq. Spending quality time with his 11-year-old daughter after three combat tours abroad "was therapy for me," he said, praising her strength and kindness.

He said he last spoke to her two days before the shooting, when McKeever told him that she'd decided to move to Texas.

"She was doing this to get away from that bad relationship and start fresh in making a good life for her and her daughter," McKeever said.

Attorney General Keith Ellison watched from the gallery, where nearly two dozen supporters wiped their tears from their eyes.

"Zaria had so much life ahead of her. It was stolen out of pure hate, evil and jealousy," said McKeever's older sister, Tiffynnie Epps. "He is a coward. My sister was the best thing that happened to his whole family, and when he realized he couldn't use her anymore, he disposed of her."

Haynes sat quietly, eyes fixed downward, never meeting the gaze of the grieving family. His attorney, Robert Paule, insisted that his client was remorseful for the pain he had caused.

Given a chance to address the court, Haynes stood and told the judge: "I just wanna say sorry to the family of Ms. McKeever."

All five of the people involved in McKeever's death have pleaded guilty to taking part in the slaying or protecting Haynes after the fact.

Foday Kevin Kamara, 17, of Brooklyn Park pleaded guilty March 22 to aiding and abetting second-degree intentional murder and is expected to receive a 10-year sentence.

He admitted to killing McKeever with his older brother, John Kamara, at the behest of Haynes, who armed the teens and drove them in his sister's car to the apartment of McKeever's boyfriend.

Foday, then just 15, unleashed a flurry of gunshots, striking McKeever five times at close range.

John Kamara accepted a plea deal offer from Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty in March 2023 before Ellison took over the prosecution. Amid mounting pressure from McKeever's family over Moriarty's plea agreements that would have spared the teens prison time, deals that were decried as too lenient, Gov. Tim Walz reassigned the case to Ellison at his request.

Moriarty had offered the brothers a plea agreement to avoid adult certification. John Kamara accepted it before Ellison and Walz intervened in his brother's case. John Kamara agreed to serve about a two-year sentence at the juvenile correctional facility in Red Wing and be placed on a form of extended probation that holds an adult sentence over his head until he's 21.

Haynes' sister and brother-in-law are charged with felony aiding an offender after the fact. Koch conditionally accepted guilty pleas from Eriana and Tavion James, both 24, in the hours after Haynes pleaded guilty April 1, just before he was slated to go to trial.

Assistant Attorneys General Erin Eldridge and Leah Erickson didn't allege that any of the adults shot McKeever but that they conspired before, during or immediately after the murder.

"He did not pull the trigger, but without Erick Haynes, Zaria would still be alive," Erickson said during closing remarks Friday. "He stalked her, he had others stalk her ... and when he did not accomplish his goal, he put guns into two juveniles' hands, in an attempt to limit his exposure — knowing that they would receive a more lenient sentence."

"She may not have been his intended target, but his intent to kill on November 8, 2022, was clear."

Before sentencing Haynes, Koch told him that although he could be released in 30 years, that was not guaranteed.

The judge ordered Haynes to pay $7,500 in restitution to the family, which may be garnished from his prison wages.

Afterward, McKeever's mother expressed her disappointment in Haynes' short apology. Too many questions were left unanswered, she said, and the truth may never be learned.

"You owe us more than those words and we didn't get it," Greer said while addressing media.

The sentencing capped a marathon day that began with an intimate prayer vigil at Shiloh Temple in north Minneapolis to honor the young mother's brief life. Loved ones clasped hands in a circle, some clutching framed photos of McKeever's smiling face, while they reflected on their fight for justice over the past 16 months.

They had wanted longer sentences, particularly for the juveniles who pulled the trigger, but thanked the Attorney General's Office for taking up the case and securing tougher sanctions for everyone involved.

"These are results we can live with," said her stepfather, Paul Greer. He and McKeever's mother are left to raise Zanay-Dior, who now will grow up without either parent.

"We can't replace her mother, but we can show her love she would've wanted us to," Greer said.