Man pleads guilty to murder of 85-year-old Belleville woman

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) - A 21-year-old man accused of helping to rob and kill an 85-year-old woman in May 2011 has pleaded guilty.  That's according to the Belleville News Democrat. 

DaQuan Barnes, 21, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and helping to rob and kill Yoko Cullen, 85, of Belleville, Illinois.

According to the BND, Cullen was leaving a bingo game in Collinsville, Illinois when she was attacked.  Barnes says he helped his uncle Demarcus Barnes, 30, and a friend LaTosha Cunningham, 39, force Cullen into the trunk of her car. 

DeQuan Barnes then said they beat her with tire irons to force the victim to reveal her ATM card pin code.  Barnes then said the three bought gasoline at an East St. Louis gas station before setting Cullen’s car on fire with her still alive inside.

The BND also reported that St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly will likely ask for a 60-year prison sentence.  Otherwise, Barnes would be eligible for a “natural-life” sentence because of the victim’s age.

Another page in this story is that DaQuan Barnes agreed not to raise two issues if he appeals his case:  the involvement of former Illinois Circuit Judge Mike Cook and the involvement of former East St. Louis Detective Orlando Ward.   Both Cook and Ward are now facing federal drug charges.

Cook presided over Barnes fitness hearing and ruled to suppress certain statements made to police.  Ward was the lead detective on this case.

Demarcus Barnes has been ruled mentally unfit to stand trial, for now.  He will face another fitness hearing December 12, 2013.  He is in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services, receiving mental health services.

Cunningham’s case is still pending.

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