BUFFALO, N.Y. — The man who pleaded guilty to killing his ex-girlfriend at the McKinley Mall appeared in court Friday for his sentencing.

The judge sentenced Keith Sparks to 20 years to life in prison.

Sparks stabbed 38-year-old Mallicia Tipps to death inside the Sears store in September 2019. 

Initially, Sparks was going to appear virtually, but he decided to appear at his sentencing in person. Sparks' lawyer says he wanted to face the family and accept responsibility for the murder, which he pleaded guilty to on September 1 of this year. 

Tipp’s aunt spoke in court telling Sparks he took away a beautiful person and left three teenagers motherless and that her wish is for him to see his last days behind bars. 

His lawyer said Sparks feels remorse.  

“I think it went as well as it could, the comments made by the victim’s family were very well articulated. It was very emotional. This is a tragedy, but hopefully, some degree of closure could be provided,” said Attorney Paul Dell.

Originally, Sparks faced 25 to life, but that was dropped down to 20 to life after he pleaded guilty.  

District Attorney John Flynn says Sparks could still serve a life sentence regardless.

“All I really care about is the word life at the end. You know, 20 to life or 25 to life just means that you first come up for parole at your 20 or 25. It doesn’t mean you are getting out of jail at 20 or 25. I pray parole never lets him out," said Flynn.

After serving his 20-year sentence, SPARKS will appear in front of a parole board who will then decide what his fate will be from there.