A family is remembering a mother taken away from them too soon. A Woonsocket man is going to prison for killing Jennifer Gibson — though her family is not happy with the sentence. 

A judge sentenced Matthew Novak to 40 years in prison for 1st degree manslaughter.  That means he could potentially be free after 20 years. Friends, family and the prosecution all asked Judge Jon Erickson for a life sentence in the case. While the family continues to mourn, they remember Jennifer for the role she played in all their lives. 

A sea of purple leave the Sanborn County Courthouse after the sentencing hearing. Friends and family of Jennifer Gibson wore the color to raise awareness on domestic violence. Inside the courtroom, the judge handed down the 40 year sentence, saying it was one of the most tragic cases he’s ever handled. The family wasn’t happy with that result. 

“It is so not fair that her life was cut short, and no matter, Judge Erickson called this justice. This was not justice, at all,” Jennifer’s Sister Amanda Gibson said. 

During his statement, Judge Erickson said Novak had no prior felony convictions, and his actions were in the heat of the moment and not premeditated. He also mentioned he saw Gibson in court weeks before her death. 

“I do honestly believe that Judge Erickson does hold a bias with my sister. He even said in there they both stood in front of him numerous times. I don’t think that Judge Erickson made the right decision,” Gibson said. 

Friends and family have said since Gibson’s death they been in a nightmare they can’t wake up from. While this crime has put Gibson into the public eye, everyone who knew her don’t want her to be defined by it. 

“I want people to remember by that not by what is being portrayed of what happened of the details of her murder. I want them to remember her smile. She walked into a room, she was always happy or she would do something to make someone laugh always,” friend Ashley Kotilinek said. 

Gibson is survived by four children, three of which Novak is the father. Now her sister Amanda Gibson is taking care of them with a hole in her heart. 

“I want to be as good of a mom as my sister would have been to them. So I just want to make sure these kids are loved and healthy and I just want to do whatever I can for them” Gibson said. 

Now a family will move forward, without the feeling of justice. 

The family also believes Novak’s parents deserve to be charged in the case because they allegedly didn’t call 9-1-1 immediately after being told about what happened by Novak. 

KELOLAND News contacted the Sanborn County State’s Attorney, who didn’t want to comment but said there won’t be misdemeanors filed in the case.