James Paul Harris, 30, was sentenced Monday to 4 years in prison for the 2011 murder of 49-year-old James Gerety.
Harris used a guitar string to decapitate Gerety. He reportedly carried around Gerety’s head in a draw string bag so he could talk to him, according to the NY Daily News. It is also reported that Harris practiced voodoo.
Bobbie Williams, an ex-girlfriend of Harris', testified that he first shot Gerety in the stomach and then tortured him for 2 days before decapitating him. Williams claimed that Harris had a voodoo doll named "Jimbo," "Bob on the Hill," and/or "Poor Jimbo Bolinsky," which Harris had hanging from the ceiling of his apartment, according to Christian Post.
Topeka lawyer, Thomas C. Henderson, realized Gerety was missing after he failed to pick up his Social Security benefit check on March 15, 2011.
Gerety’s skull was found in March 2012, about one year after he went missing, in the backyard of a home belonging to Harris’ father. Other parts of Gerety’s body have never been found, the Augusta Chronicle reports. The murder weapon has never been located.
Harris was charged with premeditated first-degree murder. Prosecutors finally offered a plea deal fearing the case would be too difficult to prove. Harris pleaded no contest in December to involuntary manslaughter.
Gerety’s brother, Tom, shared his disgust with the sentence stating, "You can murder somebody and get out in 50 months.”
He added: “What's that tell everybody on the wrong side of the law?”
Tom Gerety declined to make a statement at the sentencing because, "It wouldn't do any good."