Pulliam, 72 and widowed, opened the door for Anderson, a former neighbor on Bob O Link Drive, about 8:30 the night she died. Once inside, Anderson stabbed her more than 30 times with a knife he apparently carried in and stole coins and some jewelry, Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms said.
"A crime of this magnitude reverberates through the community," Bottoms said. "It's the type of thing you hope doesn't happen in a small, tight community. It's more of a big city crime. I think the judge responded to that in his opinion."
Anderson addressed the judge and Pulliam's three children, who sat on the front bench. Speaking in a flat, emotionless tone, Anderson looked at the Pulliams and apologized for "my terrible mistake that night."
"I have always used drugs," he said. "I am sorry for my actions. I wish I could take them back, but I can't."
The Pulliams left after the sentencing without commenting.
In a letter delivered to Peckler just before sentencing, Anderson asked the judge for leniency.
"It was one big drugged-out mistake. I know I have done wrong and been a man and admitted my mistake," Anderson wrote. "The night all of that happened, I had been taking nerve pills and pain pills and I did not know what I was doing. I can't even remember what all happened.
"I am a good person ... I have a good family who are all very good people. Please show mercy on me and let me be back on the streets someday."
Anderson's attorney, Mike Moloney of Lexington, also tried to steer blame toward Anderson's drug abuse and asked Peckler to impose a life sentence without a parole hearing for 25 years instead of life without possibility of parole.
"I think the thing that comes out at you is the substance abuse issue," Moloney said. Underlying the case "is the fact that abuse of drugs has destroyed two families."
Appeal likey for Anderson
An appeal of Peckler's sentence is likely. Moloney entered a guilty plea for his client on the condition he could appeal if the maximum sentence was imposed. He has declined to talk to reporters throughout the case.
Anderson would likely have faced the death penalty had he not been a juvenile when he was charged. Kentucky law is not settled on the maximum sentence that can be handed down to someone charged as a juvenile, Bottoms said.
"An appeal is certain," Bottoms said.
After sentencing, Bottoms discussed the evidence police had gathered against Anderson and would have been presented had the case gone to trial.
Earlier on the night of Pulliam's murder, Anderson had knocked on the door of at least two other homes in his old neighborhood asking to borrow a gas can. But the two women who answered the door both had husbands home that night, and Anderson left without incident, Bottoms said.
Pulliam was talking on the phone with her daughter when Anderson came calling.
She told her daughter that "one of the Anderson boys" was outside and never came back to the phone.
One of Anderson's fingerprints was found on a door inside Pulliam's home, the prosecutor said.
And he was videotaped entering Kroger, where he cashed in the change, within two hours of the murder.
Anderson was arrested about five hours after the murder at Harrodstown Motel. Some of the jewelry, including "a fairly valuable necklace," was found in Anderson's motel room, Bottoms said.
A week after the murder, a knife and sweatshirt found in a Dumpster, linked Anderson and Pulliam's DNA, Bottoms said. Pulliam's blood was on the knife, and Anderson's blood was on the sweatshirt.
"Anyone of those pieces of evidence would have been strong on their own, but as a combination, it could be considered overwhelming," he said.
Bottoms credited Harrodsburg police, Mercer County sheriff's deputies and Kentucky State Police for "outstanding police work."
One of the lead investigators, Harrodsburg Detective Garry Bradshaw, said law enforcement was able to get a quick jump on solving the crime because Pulliam identified a possible suspect in the conversation with her daughter and officers were familiar with Anderson.
"I'd say 90 percent of the officers in the county were on the scene within the first hour. It was a big crime scene," Bradshaw said.
"The officers knew him and knew who he ran with. They went out and hunted this guy down pretty quick."