It took 10 years for police to find evidence and for prosecutors to file aggravated murder charges against Adam Durborow, who confessed to killing Sherry Black while she was working at her bookstore.
More than 11 years later, Durborow, 30, was ordered Wednesday to serve a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole after Black’s family described what they had lost and how hard it was for them, particularly during those 10 years before Durborow’s arrest. They asked the judge to make sure Durborow will never be released rather than receive a term of 25 years to life.
On Nov. 30, 2010, Black’s husband found her stabbed to death inside her home and bookstore, B&W Billiards and Books in South Salt Lake.
“For 11 years, I’ve had to live without Sherry. My life will never be the same. She was beautiful and caring as everyone has stated. What a wonderful woman she was. But I don’t have her anymore, instead I have the memory of coming home and finding her … that’s what I have left,” Earl Black said.
Black, 64, was very involved in the lives of her daughter, six grandchildren, and one new great-grandchild. Another great-grandchild was on the way, and her first grandson had just arrived in Chile to begin his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Multiple grandchildren told the judge on Wednesday how their lives were changed by Durborow and how the death impacted their mother and grandfather, causing them even further loss. They asked for the sentence to be life in prison without the possibility of parole, and explained that they did not want to worry about where the man who murdered their grandmother is any longer.
The grandchildren expressed regret that their children will not be able to have the influence of Sherry Black in their lives, and won’t be able to spend time at the bookstore with their great-grandmother. Black’s grandchildren grew up next door to her, and were very close to their grandmother.
“We chose to not let evil win. We promised ourselves and our grandma that evil would not win. My grandma’s body was robbed that day, but her goodness, her gentle strength and her desire to do good was ignited in all of us (who) loved her so deeply, and that light will never be dimmed, never,” one granddaughter said.
Black’s daughter, Heidi Miller, said they recommended a sentence of life without parole because they are sure Durborow would repeat the crime and they do not want another family to go through what they have experienced. She said that her mom was “cruelly and viciously murdered, assaulted and disfigured” by Durborow.
A statement from the family said that the community is safer with Durborow behind bars.
“While this sentence delivers a sense of justice, no punishment imposed can heal the pain or fill the void created by Durborow when he chose to take the life of our beloved Sherry,” the statement said.
“Although he took her life, he could not take her soul, which lives on and is part of the love, beauty, kindness and talents that her husband, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will carry forward. Her legacy is a gift to future generations. The life she led and the influence she had can never be taken away.”
Miller thanked many individuals who worked on the case throughout the years, and family including her husband, Greg Miller, the former Utah Jazz CEO, whom she said did not let the case go cold and would stand by her when she was frustrated that the case would never end. She expressed that she and the family are glad they can move forward now, and will not need to look back on the case by going to parole hearings in the future.
“I feel like we are healing. This is the dawn of a new day. We are going to put him behind us, and we are going to do good things and we are going to remember her and we’re just going to focus on the positive and remember the great memories. … We can just focus on the good now, and we will,” Miller said.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said that his prayers are with Black’s family.
“This was not only a crime against a family, but also our community. Today a measure of justice was found. It is imperfect, but the best our system can do,” Gill said. “Justice would be that they never had to suffer the loss of a loved one to begin with.”
The family also thanked Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera for helping with the case. Rivera said that she and other law enforcement agencies are glad to see some justice.
“Unified Police Department and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office are thinking of the Black and Miller families today. In collaboration with other agencies, our officers worked tirelessly to investigate this case and we are pleased to see a measure of justice be served in court this morning,” she said.
In October 2020, Durborow’s DNA was collected and the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services found that it matched DNA collected at the scene of Black’s homicide. Durborow was 19 at the time of the murder, and his attorneys expressed that he had a hard childhood, without a supportive family — although, not an excuse for his actions.
Durborow pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in October 2021.
Third District Judge Randall Skanchy said that he feels “extreme sorrow” for those on both sides of the courtroom. He spoke about the family who lost someone who gave meaning to their lives, and the man without a supportive family, who at 19 did an unspeakable act with no premeditation, which caused the loss.
“It defies explanation, and I understand that, but ... the great treasure of a life that Sherry Black provided to each of you is a great treasure that Mr. Dunborow didn’t have, and that sorrows me as well,” Skanchy said.
The judge said that he believes what Durborow said in his statements, that he is sorry every day after he committed the crime.
Skanchy said that from what he read in the statements provided to him, he thinks Black would have wanted their hearts to grow with love, and hopes that the family and Durborow will experience that. He said it was apparent that Black was reaching out to someone who was troubled when she was killed.
He said he delivered the sentence with a heavy heart, but noted that it is straightforward because the actions were egregious and spontaneous. He said that he hopes the sentence starts a process of healing for the family.