PORTLAND — Justice Roland Cole today sentenced Chad Gurney to 50 years in prison for the murder of 18-year-old Zoe Sarnacki, plus 10 years for arson, followed by four years of probation.

With deductions for good time served, Gurney will be in his 70s before he is eligible for release.

Earlier this morning in the sentencing hearing in Cumberland County Superior Court, the prosecution had requested a sentence of 75 years in prison for Gurney – 50 years for the murder, followed by 25 years for setting a fire in his apartment in an attempt to destroy Sarnacki’s body.

Gurney’s defense attorney, Sarah Churchill, asked for 35 years with four years probation – 25 on the murder conviction, and 17 years for the arson, with all but five years suspended.

Gurney, 29, strangled Sarnacki on May 25, 2009, in his apartment in Portland before setting fire to her body. He was found guilty on Feb. 4 after his lawyers sought a finding of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

The court this morning heard from several of Sarnacki’s friends and family members, including her mother, who said she forgives Gurney for what he did.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, however, said later that Linda Sarnacki’s willingness to forgive should not be seen as a reason for a shorter prison sentence for Gurney.

She said if Gurney is released when he is older than 80 he would not pose a major risk to society. But If he were released when he’s 60, that would not necessarily be the case.

Gurney addressed the court, sobbing and apologizing profusely through his entire statement. He said he wished he ould change places with Sarnacki. He said he still has dreams of what his life might hold, but she can no longer dream.

Gurnery was not eligible for a life sentence because his crime did not meet requirements spelled out by the court.