Tournai family statement after John Sandoval was sentenced for the murder of Tina Tournai-Sandoval
March 31, 2017
The Tournai family of Windsor issued a statement during a news conference Friday at Weld District Court, following the sentencing of John Sandoval, who pleaded guilty to murdering Tina Tournai Sandoval on Oct. 19, 1995.
The family would not answer questions after the statement.
Bob Kuznik, the father in law to Susan Kuznik, Tournai's sister, read the statement:
Our horrible ordeal that began Oct. 19, 1995, with the disappearance of our daughter, sister, and aunt, Tina Tournai, has taken its final turn.
What we now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is Tina was murdered by her estranged husband and after more than 20 years, we recovered her.
It turns out that from the beginning, our family was right.
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The investigators got it right. The prosecution got it right.
The domestic violence expert got it right.
The jury that originally found him guilty in 2010 got it right.
In fact, even Tina got it right when she shared with her sister before that fateful meeting that if anything happened to her in her attempt to collect a debt from her estranged husband, it would be by his doing.
Now a confessed murderer goes back to prison.
You might ask, 'What is it like to be asked to weigh in on a plea offer in exchange for knowing where the body of your loved one was tossed aside?' We are a large family with a vast array of feelings. And yet we were able to come to consensus on this plea.
For however much we all longed to recover Tina, it was nonetheless very disturbing to receive word of a plea offer.
We wrestled with the idea that by giving our consent to a plea deal, Tina's murderer will ultimately be released from prison. Given credit for time already served and the prospect of an early release for good behavior while in prison, that day of his release would come much sooner than we might like.
Knowing that a second trial could again result in a life sentence without the possibility of parole, at what personal sacrifice do we decline the offer and allow a trial to proceed? Would our decision to accept a plea endanger another woman? Could we live with a longer sentence knowing that we would likely never recover Tina? These were not easy issues for us.
In the end, we reached our decision as family and are at peace with it.
At the moment, we have not decided on the proper disposition of Tina's remains, other than it will be done in privacy.
Many people are deserving of our gratitude.
We thank the detectives and investigators of the Greeley Police Department, for their dogged persistence and tireless effort to arrest Tina's murderer. Retired members of the department who had worked the case were even present today.
We are grateful to detectives that re-examined the case top to bottom in 2009. That intensive effort led to the charges of 2010 and ultimately to where we are today.
We thank the District Attorney's Office on many levels. First, we commend the decision of then-District Attorney (and now Congressman) Ken Buck, to bring charges.
We thank prosecutorial the team led by District Attorney Michael Rourke, who along with other attorneys of the DA's office artfully prosecuted the case on Tina's behalf, and who openly kept us informed as the trial and now the plea agreement proceeded.
Next we thank the DA's victim witness assistant, Irma, who many times tended to our family with everything from Kleenex to updates to simply offering an empathetic smile.
We want the Greeley Police Department and the Weld District Attorney's office to know that we appreciate your never giving up, and for never allowing us to feel abandoned. We always knew you were fighting for Tina as hard as we were.
We thank the several women who came forward in the 2010 trial to testify about the defendant's stalking and violence. We commend you for your bravery. We commend the jurors who invested 19 days of their lives in 2010 and arrived at a unanimous guilty verdict.
We thank our friends and the northern Colorado community at large for their years of support. And we especially thank those who came out today to hoist us and Tina on their shoulders of support.
Our plight ended up becoming an imposition on another family. We thank the family who shall go unnamed, for so willingly permitting the remains of their loved one, a World War II veteran, to be exhumed so that Tina's remains could be recovered.
Thanks to Necrosearch and Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Finally, we acknowledge the organization Family of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons for the work they do to educate victims and survivors.
We as a family urge all women who are victims of stalking or domestic violence to separate themselves from immediate danger and to reach out for help.