James Pascol, who authorities say helped secretly bury the body of a homicide victim last year, will apparently try to show better behavior in prison before applying again for early release.

Pascol, 58, of Shade, was sentenced last November to four years in prison for abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence as a result of the investigation into the death of 23-year-old Chris Meadows. He has been in prison since last Nov. 13, and earlier this month his attorney asked Athens County Common Pleas Court to suspend execution of Pascol’s sentence and place him on community control. A hearing was held this Wednesday.

As part of a plea deal, prosecutors had agreed not to oppose judicial release from prison on or after Aug. 5, provided Pascol cooperate in the prosecution of co-defendants. It also was conditional on Pascol having a positive institutional report from prison, defense attorney Andrew Stevenson told Judge George McCarthy on Wednesday.

“Although he has a generally favorable institutional report, he has had ... three minor, what would be very minor, violations of not being in the right place or speaking out of line,” Stevenson told McCarthy.

“In light of those, I would ask the court to entertain a motion to continue this hearing to a later date, a which point it would provide my client with an opportunity to return to the court with the ability to demonstrate his commitment and willingness to adhere to both prison laws as well as laws outside of the penal institution.”

County Assistant Prosecutor T.L. Warren did not oppose the delay.

McCarthy said he was “not encouraged” by the violations and, considering the circumstances and underlying charges, is not looking favorably at the report.

McCarthy allowed Stevenson to withdraw his motion for judicial release. A specific date for refiling it was not set.

Meadows’ body was buried on a tree farm where Pascol was a caretaker, authorities have said. The tree farm is located near Shade, and the body was found last Sept. 4. Meadows, of Darwin Road, Shade, had been reported missing in July of 2018.

This past June, Benjamin Cochran, 30, of The Plains, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Meadows and to kidnapping Meadows, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Ronald Smith, 35, of Shade, and William Milam, 32 of Nelsonville, are facing charges of aggravated murder, murder, kidnapping, gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. The cases against Milam and Smith are still pending in common pleas court.

srobb@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @SteveRmessenger

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