It's a decision that can't come easily for any judge - what to do about a man who has no criminal record, but also made a mistake and killed someone?
A jury convicted John Faulk of boating while drinking on Lake Jordan two years ago, and when doing so, killing a man whose friends say was equally good at heart.
After Faulk's sentence hearing Monday, neither the victim's family nor the defendant had gotten what they wanted.
When Faulk arrived at the Elmore County courthouse, his best and last hope to escape jail awaited him, about 20 friends and family, all asking Judge Ben Fuller for leniency.
"Please give him a pardon or parole or whatever. We don't want him to go to prison or jail," said Faulk's mother.
Fuller could have obliged them.
The jury convicted Faulk of homicide by vehicle, an unclassified felony. Sentencing range, zero to five years behind bars. He also faced up to year each of five misdemeanor assault counts.
Drinking and driving a boat in July 2006, hurting eight people, and killing Michael Haslam.
Amber Haslam met her husband while working on a ranch.
"He was probably the most amazing person you would have met," she said.
Haslam was a transplanted New Zealander.
"It didn't matter if you knew him or not, he'd give you the shirt off his back or this last bite of food he had to eat if he felt like you needed it more," Mrs. Haslam said.
On the other hand, Faulk's employer, pastor, even some college friends testified to his character.
But Faulk's own trial testimony - that he only drank heavily after the accident - didn't wash with the jury or Fuller.
Fuller said just before sentencing he had thought about what to do for a long time.
"This little boy is not going to have a dad....ever," said Fuller, looking at Haslam's young son.
So Fuller gave Faulk 30 months in prison, but split it according to Alabama law, which means he'll serve 18 months in jail for the most serious charge. He'll serve a year concurrently for each of the misdemeanor assault charges.
The victim's wife and friend say it's too light a sentence for one man's death and so many injuries.
But worst of all, they say Faulk has never apologized.
Shaun Sydenham was on the same boat with Haslam the night of the fatal accident. He says he was Haslam's best friend.
"Their family has never talked to us or shown any remorse," Sydenham said.
"His family has never addressed me or my son," said Amber Haslam.
Faulk and his attorney, Tommy Kirk, both slipped out the back door of the courthouse to avoid talking to us.
His family, pastor and former employer also declined to comment.
He's free on bond until April 15th, when he'll begin serving his jail term.