It's been nine months since Danielle Dressel learned her husband was shot on a cold, dark street in North Toledo, and she still struggles to hide the tears when she speaks of her loss.
For Michael and Larraine Dressel, the death of their son is a pain felt every day and one that is magnified when seeing his empty seat at holiday meals.
Yesterday, the family and friends of slain Toledo police vice Detective Keith Dressel crowded a Lucas County Common Pleas courtroom with no expectations of finding peace in his death, but only to witness the sentencing of his convicted killer.
Robert Jobe, 15, was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison for the Feb. 21 shooting death of Detective Dressel, 35, a 13-year veteran of the police department, husband, and father of two.
Convicted by a jury Nov. 9 on one count of murder with a gun specification, Jobe apologized to the Dressel family, but displayed little emotion when sentenced by Judge Charles Doneghy.
Prior to imposition of sentence, Detective Dressel's widow, Danielle, who wrote a letter to the judge, made a brief and tearful statement to the judge.
"I can't explain the devastation that my family has to face, as well as the police department," she said.
She said the loss of her husband is one with which she struggles daily.
And she said the couple's son, Noah, 4, asks about his father, but she doesn't know how to answer his questions.
Danielle's letter was not read in court.
Detective Dressel's mother also addressed the judge, saying that her son loved his work protecting the people of Toledo.
One of those people he worked so hard to protect, she added, was the teenager who pulled the trigger that ended his life.
"Keith and two of his fellow officers stopped that night to help Robert, to take care of him, to inform him that he was out after curfew, and that he was not acting in a safe way," she said tearfully.
"Robert Jobe, however, took Keith's life. He pulled the trigger on a gun that he had no business having in his hands. Robert Jobe didn't even give Keith a chance to help."
Family, friends, and members of the Toledo Police Department became emotional during the afternoon sentencing.
Many wore the blue bracelets honoring the slain detective, and his family members had angels pinned to their lapels - pins they received at the detective's funeral.
Detective Dressel's father, Michael, acknowledged that there were no surprises in the sentence.
He added that his family respected the jury's verdict, although they had hoped for a conviction on the higher offense of aggravated murder.
The jury of five women and seven men deliberated for more than seven hours before reaching a verdict.
They also considered but did not convict him on charges of aggravated murder, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.
The verdict form for the charge of aggravated murder, the first of the two-count indictment Jobe faced, was left blank.
Following the guidelines outlined in the law, Judge Doneghy sentenced Jobe to prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years for the murder charge plus a mandatory three years to be served consecutively for the gun specification.
He will be eligible for parole when he is 33 years old.
Dressed in a brown jail jumpsuit and with his wrists and ankles shackled, Jobe stood between his attorneys and made a brief statement.
He thanked the court for being fair and offered his "deepest concern for the family and my apology."
Attorney Ann Baronas, who gave the opening statements for the defense during the trial, acknowledged that although an apology from Jobe would never be enough, it was something the teenager had wanted to express since learning of the detective's death.
She said that when she first met him, Jobe asked her if he could attend Detective Dressel's funeral.
"Even on Feb. 21, 2007, Robert wanted to show his respect," she said.
"He wanted to say he was sorry. He wanted to show his remorse," she said.
Jobe's mother, Diane, sat among a few friends in the last row of the courtroom. She left quickly after her son was led away in chains.
Attorney David Klucas said she was not interested in commenting. He added that Jobe is hoping to benefit from educational programs available in prison.
Mr. Klucas did not comment on aspects of the trial, including Ms. Baronas' opening statements that included calling Detective Dressel a "300-pound thug."
He said the defense's strategy was to prove that Jobe did not know that the three men who approached him that foggy night were police officers.
He added that the verdict will be appealed.
Twenty-four witnesses testified over three days during the trial about the night Detective Dressel was shot and killed.
According to testimony, Detective Dressel and his two undercover partners came across two teenagers walking along a dark and foggy North Ontario Street several hours after the city's curfew for juveniles.
The detectives engaged Jobe and his companion, Sherman Powell, in a conversation before emerging from their vehicle.
Upon getting out, Detective William Bragg identified the officers as police and showed his badge, he testified during the trial.
Powell testified that he "figured" the men were police and so he ran.
Evidence proved that Jobe pulled out a gun and fired a shot.
Detective Dressel was shot once in the left side of his chest. He died within minutes.
He became the first Toledo police officer killed in the line of duty since 1970.
In exchange for Powell's testimony, prosecutors offered a deal to the 19-year-old North Toledoan that saved him from serving time in prison.
He pleaded guilty Nov. 9 to obstruction, weapon, and drug charges and is serving six months in the Correctional Treatment Facility followed by three months in work release.
County Assistant Prosecutor Dean Mandros said at the sentencing that since Detective Dressel's death, the question in the minds of many is who should be blamed.
He suggested that some have blamed Jobe's mother, others blamed the juvenile justice system, and still others have pointed a finger at society as a whole.
"Robert Jobe himself decided to be out on the street that night. No one made him," he said. "He decided to have a gun in his pocket. He decided to pull it out, and he decided to pull the trigger."
"So, who is to blame? Robert Jobe is to blame," he said.
When gathered outside the courtroom, Detective Dressel's family continued to wipe tears from their eyes. Detective Dressel's widow left quickly.
Mr. Dressel spoke of his son as the jokester of the family, and recounted fond memories of family gatherings that usually included Detective Dressel engaged in a water fight and laughing with the children.
Jennifer Raburn, Detective Dressel's sister, said the family has lived through several holidays without that familiar laugh to comfort them.
But all members of his family said that while Detective Dressel no longer will be present in family photographs, he never will be absent from their hearts.
And to serve as a reminder during the holiday season, at least one tree at General Motor Corp.'s Toledo Powertrain plant will be wrapped in blue holiday lights, said Mr. Dressel, who works at the plant.
He said that he knows that the lights, which are used as a fund-raiser, are his colleagues' and the community's way of remembering his son.
"It's an honor for Keith and for our family," he said.
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