PROVO, Utah (AP) — A Utah man who pleaded guilty to the strangulation death of his wife has been sentenced to serve up to 45 years in prison, a report said.

Curtis Nichols, 37, was sentenced Monday for killing Robin Nichols in the couple’s home in August 2017, KUTV reported Monday.

Police determined Nichols strangled his wife in a fit of rage while the couple’s three children were in the home 9 miles south of Provo.

Nichols told police he was shopping and returned to find his 35-year-old wife dead on the floor. Investigators observed injuries to his forehead that appeared to be scratch marks and later took skin samples from the woman’s fingernails, which matched to Curtis Nichols, police reports said.

Nichols originally pleaded not guilty, but in June pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and three counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child and obstructing justice.

A Utah County judge ordered consecutive sentences for each of the counts, which will require Nichols to spend between two and 45 years in prison.

Family members testified the couple had a volatile relationship during 13 years of marriage. Robin Nichols’ mother, Robin Fifer, told the court Curtis Nichols ridiculed his wife for her weight and demanded to know every detail of her life.

“He made her feel like she was not smart enough, not good enough,” Fifer said. “He strangled her with his bare hands and looked down on her face and watched her die. It haunts my life to imagine her hurting.”

Fifer called the murder an act of “cold cowardice.”

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