Man sentenced to life in prison for murders of Newton mother, daughter

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Keith Hawkins was sentenced to life in prison on February 9, 2018, for the deaths of Alyssa Runyon and her Zaylynn Paz Keith Hawkins was sentenced to life in prison on February 9, 2018, for the deaths of Alyssa Runyon and her Zaylynn Paz
NEWTON, Kan. (KAKE) -

The man who murdered a Newton mother and her 4-year-old daughter last year has been sentenced to life in prison.

Keith Hawkins was sentenced Friday to life without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty in December to capital murder in the deaths of 24-year-old Alyssa Runyon and her daughter, Zaylynn Paz, whose bodies were found August 8.

The victims' bodies were found by Runyon's ex-boyfriend in bedrooms in the victims' duplex. Police said the girl had been stabbed and that her mother was strangled.

Alyssa's mother, angry and sobbing, spoke to Hawkins at his sentencing hearing. 

"I've seen first hand what you did to my daughter and my granddaughter," she said. "I've seen what you did and I cannot wait for the day that somebody does that sh-- to you."

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Hawkins was arrested later that day in Texas. Authorities said he was homeless and was visiting Runyon. 

"Zaylynn was only four years old. Four," the girls great-grandmother said at Hawkins' sentencing. "You took their lives as if they were nothing. They were something. They were part of my family and my family means everything to me."

"What you took can never be replaced," the great-grandmother said. "I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye."

After family members voiced their grief and before the judge handed down his sentence, Hawkins stood and spoke.

"With all my heart, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry for the sentence that I've been given, but I'm sorry for the pain and the grief that I've caused. If there was any day in my life that I could take back, it would be that night."

The victims' families agreed to a plea deal that dropped two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for Hawkins' guilty plea on the capital murder charge.

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