WILCOX COUNTY, Ga. — The man accused of helping burn the body of a south Georgia teacher asked for forgiveness as he was sentenced.
Bo Dukes was found guilty Thursday of lying to authorities in the Tara Grinstead case.
Dukes' attorney didn't want to speak to Channel 2's Tony Thomas as he walked out of court Friday following sentencing, but he sent Thomas an email that read, "While we appreciate the jury's service we do not agree with the verdict reached and are weighing all appellate options."
That statement was greatly different than Dukes’ tone inside court.
[READ: Who is Tara Grinstead?]
“I was more interested in self-pity and self-preservation than doing the right thing for Tara and for you. I pray for your forgiveness,” Dukes told the court Friday morning.
Grinstead’s family stared at Dukes as he directed his comments at them.
For years, Dukes had lied to investigators as they tried to solve Grinstead’s disappearance from Irwin County in 2005.
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Dukes said his friend, Ryan Duke, killed her, and that he then helped Duke move and burn her body in a pecan field.
“He watched whole communities in turmoil because Tara was missing,” Grinstead’s stepmother, Connie Grinstead, said. “He did nothing. He just went on living his life, not caring about the pain he caused others.”
Connie Grinstead spared no words as she asked the judge to give Dukes the maximum sentence of 25 years, and he did.
“I just can't quite wrap my head around what was done,” said Judge Robert Chasteen.
Dukes' mother stood up for her son but admitted he had problems. She asked for rehabilitation.
Dukes also faces charges in neighboring Ben Hill County, where Grinstead’s body was burned, and in Houston County on unrelated charges.
“I want each of you to know I am truly remorseful. Thank you,” Dukes told the court.
The man charged with the actual killing of Tara Grinstead, Duke, faces a trial starting April 1.
Cox Media Group