PANAMA CITY — After being rebuked in open court by the family of his victim, a former seafood vendor employee who fatally stabbed a co-worker over gumbo seasoning was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

Orlando Ricardo Thompson, 27, was found guilty as charged April 20 of second-degree murder. He stabbed 33-year-old Caleb Joshua Halley in June 2015 with a 15-inch “decorative sword” behind Buddy’s Seafood Market, 111 State 79, after an argument erupted over gumbo seasoning.

The harshest punishment Thompson faced was life in prison and Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet said, despite Thompson not having a criminal history, after reviewing video of the incident that was the only appropriate sentence.

“The purpose of my sentence today is to punish,” Overstreet said. “And this is the only punishment I deem to be lawful in this case.”

Marie Thompson, Orlando’s mother, said she rejected the sentence and that her son would be imprisoned in body only.

“I am a believer,” she said after hearing the sentence. “I believe God said he is free. Even if they throw the book at him, he is free.”

Orlando Thompson and his mother pleaded with the court beforehand and begged Halley’s family for forgiveness.

“This whole thing is sad,” Thompson told the court before turning to Halley’s family in the audience. “I’m so sorry from the bottom of my heart. Please forgive me for what has happened.”

Moments later, though, he instead received firm rebuke. One by one, family members stood before the court and addressed Thompson as a “killer,” “murderer” and “coward.”

“You were supposed to be his friend,” said Megan Halley, younger sister. “It sickens me he was taken down by a man like you.”

Halley’s family also expressed distrust in Thompson’s remorse because of the defense’s trial strategy of attempting to paint Halley as the initial aggressor.

Gene Halley said his son’s death was “senseless and cruel” before asking that Thompson spend the balance of his days behind bars.

“He was my only son and we hoped one day he would carry on the namesake of his grandfather,” Gene Halley told the court. “He is with Christ now, which is my only hope to be reunited.”

The entire incident was graphically captured on the surveillance cameras inside and out of Buddy’s. The video detailed two separate events, both without audio, the afternoon of June 23, 2015.

In the first, Halley confronts Thompson about adding spice to the seafood business’ gumbo. Posturing, shouting and shoving ensued with both men arming themselves — Thompson with a 2x4 board and Halley with a pocket knife — before they separate and disarm.

In the 11 seconds that follow, Thompson runs inside to a spice closet, grabs the 15-inch-long sword with knuckle guards and returns. The men tangle for a second time, and Halley arms himself with a mop stick against the sword. Halley repeatedly strikes at Thompson’s hand in an attempt to disarm him. At some point, Halley suffers a stab wound severe enough to expose his intestines.

Halley died two days later from his injuries.

Alvin Peters, Thompson’s defense attorney, maintained that Halley initiated the altercation and argued that Thompson showed remorse immediately after the stabbing. Overstreet, however, said he was not taking remorse into account because Thompson returned for the second altercation.

Halley’s family members breathed an audible sigh of relief as Overstreet read his verdict. They each had called for a life sentence but said they will continue to suffer from the loss of Halley’s presence.

“I pray one day I can forgive you,” Megan Halley told Thompson. “But how can you forgive someone who has taken everything from you?”

Halley, who graduated from Chipley High School in 2000, was well-known for his portrayal of Florida State University’s Chief Osceola mascot from 2004 to 2007.