Published: May 25, 2011 2:37 AM EDT
Updated: May 25, 2011 2:37 AM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Cape Coral man will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing another man at a new year's party last year.

Reginald Etienne was convicted last month in the death of Joshua Sands.  Prosecutors say the two had gotten into an argument during the party.

"You just relive it in your head, over and over.  It's something that never goes away.  Something that's always there," said Melissa Reid, who was there the night her fiance, Joshua Sands, was killed.

"I was trying to save his life the whole time, giving him CPR.  Just trying to help him try to get through it, but he was gone," Reid said.

Friends say Etienne was a neighbor invited to a family gathering.  Prosecutors say after the verbal argument, Etienne went next door and grabbed a knife.

"When asked why he came back with a knife and said 'I wasn't going to let anybody ruin my fun,'" said prosecutor Marie Doerr.

Sands was stabbed 18 times.  In court, Etienne tried to argue it was self-defense under the "stand your ground" law, but the judge didn't buy it.

Sands' friends say they still don't understand it how this could happen to him.

"He was an all-around good guy, and it was senseless and worthless.  Worthless," said friend Josh Kanable.

"Even now they ask where their daddy is," Reid said. "And you just say, he loves you, he misses you."

With the trial now behind them, sands family is focused on being there for the children he left behind.

"He was a great father, and that's what was lost more than anything," Reid said.  "He loved kids, and now... They'll never know that."

Defense attorneys were seeking a 25 year sentence for Etienne, but the judge agreed with the prosecutors' request for a life term in prison.