'Cemetery murder' leads to 27-year-sentence

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A killer who helped hide the bodies of three murder victims in another person's burial plot has drawn a 27-year prison sentence in Memphis.

James Montgomery was sentenced yesterday for the second-degree murders of a suspected drug dealer, the dealer's mother and a teenage friend.

Montgomery was initially convicted in 1996 on first-degree murder charges and sent to death, but those charges were dismissed on appeal.

Montgomery won his appeal arguing that the jury was prejudiced by the sloppy defense in his trial. He was granted a new trial by the state Supreme Court.

Police say the victims, perhaps still alive, were buried in a Memphis cemetery in an open grave that was dug for an upcoming funeral.

An informant told police about crime and the grave was reopened, revealing the hidden bodies.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)