Williamsport, Pa. — In one afternoon, the tragic story of a life cut short and another thrown away came a step closer to the conclusion as Monica Latoya Burns, 30, was sentenced to 12 and half years in state prison.

Burns pleaded guilty on Thursday to third degree murder and possessing an instrument of crime. After the Honorable Judge Marc Lovecchio reviewed the counts and made sure Burns understood her plea, he gave the victim’s family a chance to speak.

Ryan Jones’ family read aloud from prepared statements. They spoke of the emotional toll the loss of Jones, of South Williamsport, has had on the family, calling Burns a “coward” several times.

Burns, 30, of the 1600 block of Randall Circle in Loyalsock Township, was apprehended in Philadelphia by U.S. Marshals nine days after the homicide took place.

According to the affidavit, Burns, the mother of three, stabbed Jones in the chest* at a party inside an apartment at Timberland Apartments in Williamsport during the early morning hours of New Year's Day. Jones had become engaged in a fight with several others when Burns picked up a knife and stabbed him in the chest.

After the stabbing, Jones fled the apartment. Surveillance cameras in the area showed Jones exiting the apartment on Lycoming Street around 1:10 a.m. and running across the street toward Williamsport Bureau of Fire headquarters. The sight of Jones was lost on the video when he walked behind a parked utility trailer, according to the affidavit.

Jones' body was found around 6:30 a.m. behind the fire department headquarters at 440 Walnut Street.

Williamsport Bureau of Police responded and found Jones "to have suffered trauma to areas of his head and upper body," according to the affidavit. Emergency medical personnel and the deputy coroner pronounced him dead at the scene.

* Correction: The number of stab wounds was originally reported to be multiple according to the affidavit written by city police agent Justin Snyder. Courtroom proceedings only referred to a single stab wound.