Michael Newkirk, 60, was in prison for another crime when he was charged in the killing of 88-year-old Helen Tracy. State police say he confessed because he was feeling guilty about the killing.
He pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to second-degree murder, and Kent County Circuit Judge Mark Trusock sentenced him Thursday.
Tracy was killed in her home in 1989. A Kent County cold case team reopened the case in 2009, and investigators re-interviewed Newkirk last year.
Before the sentencing, Newkirk told the court he isn't a bad person but is a "good person" who made "a bad mistake" and is now "paying for it."