After three trials, a Northfield man was sentenced to life behind bars for the 1992 murder of his girlfriend.

According to the Summit County Prosecutor's Office, Willard McCarley, 53, of Northfield, was found guilty of aggravated murder for killing Charlene Puffenbarger.

McCarley beat, strangled and suffocated Puffenbarger, who was 26 at the time, on Jan. 20, 1992 inside her Twinsburg Township apartment. Puffenbarger's two toddler sons were at the apartment when she was killed.

The sentencing comes after three jury trials for Puffenbarger's murder. In both previous trials, in 2005 and 2007, a jury found McCarley guilty of aggravated murder, but the verdicts were overturned upon appeal, resulting in new trials.

McCarley was arrested in 2004 after DNA technology linked him to the case. DNA on the belt used to strangle Charlene was traced to McCarley.