Now 23, he's been in prison for four years for second-degree murder.
"The defendant extinguished a life by his own hand. That life was precious to the victim, to Missy Praetz' family, and it should have been just as precious to him," McDowell said in his ruling.
The couple had secretly married three weeks before the slaying in a ceremony at the Washington County Courthouse.
According to a statement of facts, a woman driving home on Pectonville Road spotted Whittington that night, running toward her car, waving for help, and holding a cigarette lighter.
Whittington claimed to have been in an accident and the woman went for help, returning with her husband after calling for an ambulance.
Whittington said he was injured, but did not mention his wife was in the car until a fire was spotted inside, court records said.
The next day, Whittington confessed to strangling Praetz during an argument, driving the car into a tree off Pectonville Road and lighting the car's interior in an attempt to make it look like she died in an accident, court records said.
"I'm very sorry, very remorseful to Mr. and Mrs. Praetz," Whittington said, turning toward the victim's parents who attended the Feb. 13 sentence modification hearing.
In late October, a U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore awarded $3.5 million in wrongful death damages to the parents of Missy Praetz.