It's been more than five years since Hank Johnson was brutally beaten in his Hearne hotel room, his guitars taken and the 27-year-old left behind with injuries so severe he would die 11 days later.
Since that night, Johnson's mother, Sandi Johnson, has been fighting to bring some form of justice to her son, who was also a husband and father to two.
Sandi Johnson said that moment finally came for her Monday when 28-year-old Trae Deandra Thompson pleaded no contest to criminal negligent homicide and was sentenced to 15 months in jail.
"We lived in a world of fun and laughter, we just sent out love our whole lives," Sandi Johnson said of herself and her family. "So to have someone beat us to death ... how can you even think someone could do that?"
Thompson was indicted for murdering Hank Johnson in May 2013 while he was in prison for a 2008 assault on a public servant offense. He was arrested for the murder charge immediately upon his release from prison.
Robertson County District Attorney Coty Siegert wouldn't go into details about any specific evidence against Thompson since his plea is still legally pending, but described the case as difficult.
He said a key part of the case against Thompson was that after the murder, the defendant had possession of the guitars that had been stolen out of Hank Johnson's hotel room the night he was beaten.
Thompson's defense attorneys, Shawna Roscom and Lonnie Gosch, said their client agreed to the plea deal as means of an end for everyone involved.
By pleading no contest, Thompson was neither admitting nor denying he killed Johnson, Roscom said.
"Unfortunately, as it goes with a lot of incarcerated individuals with that kind of case, they start to feel defeated and they want a quick resolution," Gosch said. "He said he wanted to 'give closure to Sandi Johnson.'"
Because he'll receive credit for time served, Thompson is looking at a July release date.
The Hearne Police Department handled the investigation of Hank Johnson's murder before sending its findings over to Siegert's predecessor, John Paschall.
The case was presented to a grand jury more than once under Paschall and the panel failed to issue an indictment each time. In 2012, former Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner agreed to look into the case, but no indictment was issued despite being brought before grand jurors four times.
In 2012, a civil jury found that enough evidence existed to find Thompson responsible for Hank Johnson's death.
Attorney Ty Clevenger, who represented Sandi Johnson in the lawsuit, said during the civil trial jurors heard video-taped testimony from a woman who claimed Thompson had implicated himself to her.
However, that woman would not cooperate in criminal proceedings, Clevenger said.
"This was a very emotionally charged case," Gosch said.
For Sandi Johnson, "emotionally charged" doesn't begin to cover it.
"For a while, it was just tough for me to get out of bed," she said. "When you wake up from something like that, you think, 'This is a nightmare.'"
She continued, "You're just in shock a long time; then, as you're walking and floating along, you finally realize that this did happen. It's real."
When Sandi Johnson talks about losing her son, the grief in her voice seems tangible. But that changes when she starts describing the way he lived.
"Hank was a comedian," she said. "Hank made people smile and laugh. That was his goal with his family and his friends."
She and her son worked together in puppet performances for many years, taking their show in front of thousands of kids. Recently, she's been talking with another performer about getting back into the puppeteering business, something Sandi Johnson said she thinks her son would appreciate.
"Hank loved to entertain," Sandi Johnson said. "He was just so very special."