COLORADO SPRINGS — The man found guilty this week for the 1987 killing of a Fort Carson soldier was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday morning.
“It’s definitely a different feeling, I don’t know it’s totally set in yet,” said Paul Krashoc, the victim’s father.
Michael Whyte, now 60, was found guilty of killing 20-year-old Darlene Krashoc. Her body was found dumped behind a restaurant. She had been raped, brutally assaulted and strangled to death with a wire hanger.
“If she was here I think she’d tell you that she’s happy for us that we got closure,” said Paul.
It took the jury a little over four-and-a-half hours to come to a verdict after a more than week long trial.
“We can move on the best that we can knowing that her justice has been done,” said Paul.
“Yeah, she’s at rest,” said Betty Krashoc, Darlene’s mother.
Both Paul and Betty agreed the last week has been difficult at times.
“They tried to make her out to be a bad person and she was not, and I think that’s what bothered me most,” said Paul.
“She was always for the underdog and she would take up for whoever it was,” said Betty. “It didn’t matter if it was man, woman or child, if she felt that they were being mistreated or picked on then she’d jump right in there and say that’s enough. That’s just the way she was, she had a kind soul.”
“When she was born she weighed five pounds five ounces. She could lay in my hand,” said Paul. “She was so tiny, she scared me to death, but she had a spirit as big as a giant.”
Before Whyte was sentenced Paul spoke to the court on behalf of the family and said Whyte took more from them than just their daughter. He said he also took their future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“When you hurt somebody or murder somebody you’re taking everything they had, everything that they’re going to have,” said Paul. “I don’t think they think about it enough that when you do something like this you destroy many, many, many lives and in doing so you destroy families.”
Whyte appeared in court Friday in a prison jumpsuit for the first time, but he maintained his innocence. When given his chance to address the court he said, “I didn’t kill Darlene Krashoc. Nothing else.”
But Paul and Betty believe police got the right man.
“I knew in my heart and I don’t know how many of you in here are mothers, but a mother knows,” said Betty. “He did it. Without a doubt in my heart or mind, he did it.”
However, they agree justice is bittersweet.
“We feel so sorry for his family,” said Paul. “His family is suffering too.”
“It’s one of these cases where nobody wins, nobody wins,” said Betty.
The Krashocs said they have leaned heavily on their faith these past three decades and will continue to do so moving forward.
“The good Lord tells you you have to forgive so you can be forgiven,” said Betty. “And we have to do what we have to do.”
The Krashocs won’t leave Colorado with all the answers and the admit they’ll likely never know why this happened to their daughter. But they leave with a newfound peace and a word of advice for other parents.
“You make sure you love and hug your kids every day and you tell them that you love them,” said Paul. “And you watch out for them.”