Prosecutors had misgivings after making a plea deal with a man accused of plundering dead bodies and selling their parts to tissue companies for transplants.
The victims' families clamored for a trial, and prosecutors felt there was plenty of evidence for one. So they moved to rescind the deal.
They were rebuked Wednesday by a judge, who said their regrets weren't grounds for them to renege on an agreement reached weeks ago.
The judge's order means Michael Mastromarino, 44, will go to prison for 18 to 54 years for his ghoulish crimes — possibly putting him behind bars for the rest of his life.
"Mr. Mastromarino may never see the light of day," said Brooklyn Judge Albert Tomei, whose words brought Mastromarino's mother to tears.
Prosecutor Monique Ferrell said there had been a "change in circumstance" and a trial was needed to reveal the full "scope of harm he caused." She said prosecutors became fully aware of his activities only in the last year.
In a statement e-mailed after the hearing, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office provided a clearer explanation of why prosecutors sought a trial.