WJTV News Channel 12 - Cara Holley's family reacts to Padgett's life sentence

Cara Holley's family reacts to Padgett's life sentence

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Cara Holley and her mom Lisa Cowling. Cara Holley and her mom Lisa Cowling.
Cara Holley was brutally murdered in July of 2010. Cara Holley was brutally murdered in July of 2010.
Before Cara was killed she had two jobs and was looking forward to going to Virginia Western for college. Before Cara was killed she had two jobs and was looking forward to going to Virginia Western for college.
Cara Holley was born with one arm, but her parents say she was still determined to do everything. Cara Holley was born with one arm, but her parents say she was still determined to do everything.
The man convicted of beating, raping, and murdering 18-year-old Cara Holley will now grow old and likely die behind bars.

Roanoke County Judge James Swanson sentenced Shane Padgett to five consecutive life sentences without parole and 175 years for five other felonies.

It's a decision Cara Holley's family hoped would be different.

"I think he should have been given the death penalty, but it's not my decision to make," Cara's mother Lisa Cowling says. "Cara's light will still shine brightly I know that."

Cara's mother Lisa Cowling says it's been a devastating three and half years.

"It's been a long battle, but we stood up for Cara and did what we think was right for Cara and we're proud of that," Cowling said.

Cowling says her family and friends were robbed of watching Cara go to college, get married, and have her own kids.

 "We will always remember Cara," Cowling said. "The pain will never end for any us, but Cara would want us to be happy. That's the type of person she was."

Roanoke County Judge James Swanson said Padgett's crime was quote 'outrageously vile and inhumane.' He said those factors made him eligible for the death penalty.

"Cara did absolutely nothing to bring about or cause what happened to her. I am confident in my belief. She was truly a victim," Roanoke County Judge James Swanson says.

However, Swanson said the Commonwealth failed to prove Padgett would continue to be a threat to society. He said his decision was based on Padgett's absence of violence or prior incarcerations before the murder. He also considered Padgett's extensive history of mental health issues and his use of multiple drugs.

CLICK HERE to see how you can help the family get a butterfly bench donated in honor of Cara.
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