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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — An Arkansas appellate court affirmed last week the 10-year sentence a Texarkana man received in 2018 for abuse of a corpse.

Chad Allen Jernigan, 42, didn't want police to discover marijuana plants and methamphetamine at his home the day his friend, Richard York, apparently died there of a drug overdose, prosecutors argued in 2018 at Jernigan's punishment-only jury trial. When interviewed following York's disappearance in July 2017, Jernigan lied to police.

Jernigan ripped up flooring and concrete in his backyard shed and buried York, who had been married to Jernigan's sister and was uncle to Jernigan's own children. For a year, York's family searched and wondered.

In 2018, Jernigan asked a friend to help him move York's body so it could be found and the family's uncertainty could end. The body was not moved but word of York's body's location made its way to Texarkana, Ark., police.

Police and crime scene analysts carefully removed items from the cluttered shed and painstakingly sifted through dirt and debris to recover York's remains. Jernigan was arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse.

York pleaded guilty to the crime but asked that a jury assess his punishment. The lawyer who prepared York's appeal of his maximum 10-year sentence filed an Anders brief. An Anders brief, so called because of case law, essentially tells an appellate court that no grounds for appeal exist under the law and given the case record and trial transcript.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals last week affirmed Jernigan's conviction and sentence. Jernigan was ordered as well to pay a maximum $10,000 fine and $1,000 in restitution for York's final expenses.

Jernigan is currently being held at the Benton Work Release facility of the Arkansas Department of Correction.

He will be eligible for parole in July, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction website. Eligibility for parole is not a guarantee that parole will be granted.

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