US District Judge Irma Gonzalez has sentenced Robert John McGill, 57, to life imprisonment for severely beating his wife and strangling her to death in their cabin on Carnival Cruise Line’s Elation in July 2009, during a five-day cruise to Mexico.

On the third day of the couple’s cruise, the ship docked in Cabo, Mexico, where in celebration of his 55th birthday, McGill engaged in some heavy drinking. Witnesses recall that, upon returning to the ship, McGill could hardly walk.

Later that night, McGill murdered his wife, changed clothes, went up to a deck, smoked a cigar and drank more beer with another couple. According to court records, when asked where about his wife, he told them he had killed her.

While pleading guilty to second-degree murder, McGill had no clear memory of what provoked him or what happened. His lawyers had sought a sentence of 11 years, citing extreme intoxication and his lifelong work as a dedicated teacher.