A killer whose 17 1/2-year wait on death row stands as the nation's longest in the modern era of executions was resentenced Thursday to life in prison by a judge who said he had no choice.

Howard Virgil Lee Douglas could gain parole after seven more years, a fact that frightens the widow of his victim. She said Douglas vowed to kill her when he got out.Douglas' death sentence was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court in January on grounds the original judge in the case erred in overriding a jury recommendation for a life term.

"I have no alternative but to impose a sentence of life imprisonment," Circuit Judge William A. Norris told the toothless, craggy-faced inmate with the short-cropped white hair.

Douglas, 55, stood emotionless, dressed in orange prison garb, his hands and feet manacled. He said nothing during the brief hearing.

Douglas was given credit for time served. He could become eligible for parole in seven years but his attorney was unsure whether that would happen.