Top court upholds 20-year jail term for ex-basketball player

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 21, 2014 - 20:29
  • Updated : Jul 21, 2014 - 20:29
The country’s top court on Monday upheld a 20-year jail sentence against a former basketball player for murdering his sister-in-law and secretly burying her body in the countryside.

Jeong Sang-heon, 32, was convicted of strangling the twin sister of his wife to death at her home in Hwaseong, just south of Seoul, last June following a dispute over a family business run by the two sisters.

The Supreme Court rejected Jeong’s appeal against a verdict handed down by a lower court, saying that the sentence was appropriate, given his “relationship with the victim, and the motive for, and means of, his crime.”

A former high school basketball sensation, Jeong debuted in South Korea’s pro basketball league as a member of the Daegu Orions in 2005.

His short-lived career ended in 2009 following years of struggling to blend in with the Orions and his second team, the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus.

Jeong started brokering car scrapping deals shortly after his retirement, but his failure to provide for a home led him to move in with his sister-in-law who made disparaging jokes about his financial incompetence.

The court said Jeong drove around with his sister-in-law’s body in the car trunk for two days before burying her on top of a hill just outside of Seoul.

In January, he was sentenced to 25 years in jail at Suwon District Court, which said he had sent text messages from the victim’s cell phone to deceive others into believing that she was alive.

The appellate court lowered the sentence to 20 years, citing the spontaneous nature of his crime. (Yonhap)