VALUEZTV AM EDITION
A man accused of murdering a Newark-area resident and abusing his corpse was sentenced to more than a decade in prison on Friday.
James Kline, 30, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the murder of Jeremy Chisom, who was missing for months before police located his body behind Kline's home in the Christiana Acres community near New Castle in May 2019.
"I regret everything," said Kline appearing at the sentencing hearing via a video feed from Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington.
Chisom had multiple children, his father told the judge during the hearing.
"(Kline) killed potential," the father said. "My son Jeremy had potential."
Both the victim's family and prosecutors noted that nobody other than Kline is certain why or how the murder occurred.
"We will never know what happened," Chisom's father said.
Deputy Attorney General Matthew Frawley said Kline has put forward five different versions of what happened.
There was some indication in court Friday that Chisom and Kline were friends and that Chisom was involved in drug dealing. Christina Ruggerio, Kline's attorney, said Chisom stored drugs at Kline's home
Kline said he "did what he did" because he was "scared."
Kline was initially charged with first-degree murder and other charges, but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse, a charge that stemmed from him trying to dispose of Chisom's body by burning it behind his home.
When detectives found Chisom's body, Kline's neighbors told The News Journal they recalled seeing a large fire and smelling a putrid odor shortly after Chisom was reported missing.
"At the end of November, we smelled what smelt like decomposition, which, around here with animals, whatever. Didn't think much about it," one neighbor told The News Journal.
Kline was given 15 years for killing Chisom and an additional year for the corpse abuse charge. Presiding Judge Ferris Wharton said he didn't know what to believe related to why Chisom was murdered.
"What you did after that was clear and despicable," Wharton told Kline.