Her pleas for help and chilling screams were recorded and used as evidence in Burris' trial, which ended in May with a guilty verdict.
In 1994, Burris received a $9 million contract to build Mercer County Waterfront Park for the Trenton Thunder baseball team. He arrived in the courtroom under armed guard yesterday, supported on crutches because of a hip injury and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit over a gray t-shirt.
Burris has been incarcerated since his arrest immediately after the shooting, serving 808 days that will count toward completing his sentence. He answered only ``no, sir'' in a low voice when the judge asked if he had anything to say.
Despite the sentence - which makes Burris 99 years old before he is eligible for parole - Selvaggio's family and friends who gathered in the courtroom later said they felt no relief.
''It just puts Don in a place where he belongs, it doesn't bring my sister back,'' said the victim's brother David Selvaggio. ``You go through this and you think that every step will lead to closure, but it doesn't.''
So brutal was the killing, that Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Connor said, he felt compelled to impose New Jersey's ``no early release act'' into the 65-year term so that Burris must serve 85 percent of the time before he may be paroled. The minimum sentence Connor could have given Burris was 30 years. The maximum was life in prison.
''The unarmed victim was hunted down like an animal,'' Connor said. ``She was pursued into a weeded area where she eventually died.''
Selvaggio was shot at such close range that she was blown out of her shoes and gunpowder residue was found on her face. Deep holes from high-powered shells were cut into her right jaw, torso and left forearm. She died from massive injuries, in a clump of weeds and mud a dozen yards from where the pay phone was found dangling when police arrived.
Burris, who quickly drove off, was arrested by police minutes later.
Connor said the aggravating factors involving domestic violence in the case were ``extremely weighty'' in his decision.
Selvaggio had broken off her engagement to Burris and had moved from their luxury Voorhees apartment to a modest cottage behind the bar she owned, a week before she was killed.
Burris sat quietly in court with his hands folded in a prayer-like position on his chest as his ex-wife, Katherine Burris, and his brother-in-law, Jerry Gares, asked the judge to give him a shorter sentence.
The former Mrs. Burris called the couple's six children ``innocent victims'' in the matter. Both she and Gares said they had known Burris for a considerable amount of time and had never seen him act violently before the killing.
But Atlantic County First Assistant Prosecutor Murray Talasnik, in his statement to the judge, said Burris should ``die in prison'' because of the ``heinous and depraved way'' he had killed Selvaggio.
Talasnik also noted that as recently as in a pre-sentencing report filed with the court, Burris had still failed to ``take responsibility for what he had done.''
That he killed Selvaggio was never denied by Burris' attorney, Edwin Jacobs Jr., whose failed strategy in the 2 1/2-week trial centered on proving that his client suffered a mental defect called ``dissociative disorder'' when he killed Selvaggio. Jacobs defense claimed Burris, distraught over their break-up, killed Selvaggio because of the mental defect brought on by her supposed sexual and financial manipulation of him during their two-year relationship.
''What Don did in there is an example of his lack of pride, his lack of morality and his lack of responsibility,'' David Selvaggio later said of the way he felt the defense tried to besmirch his sister's reputation. ``Where is the apology from him? There never has been one. And he's had 808 days to come up with it and he's never offered.''