The prosecutor called the ruling “the final chapter” in the brutal murder of a Belleville woman who was burned alive during an attempt to steal her bingo winnings.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida on Monday found Demarcus Barnes, 35, remains mentally unfit to stand trial and was an ongoing threat to the public. Haida ordered Barnes committed to a secure mental health treatment facility until he was well enough to face the murder charges or 80 years, whichever comes first.
Barnes and his co-defendants Dequan Barnes, 26, and Latosha Cunningham, 44, were accused of stopping 85-year-old grandmother Yoko Cullen as she left the Collinsville Fireman’s Hall after bingo, abducted, robbed and burned Cullen alive in the trunk of her own car.
Dequan Barnes, 26, and Cunningham, 44, are each serving 60-year prison sentences for Cullen’s murder.
“This is essentially the final chapter in this horrific story,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said. “Yoko Cullen’s family has fought hard and long for her. These three defendants cannot be near the public ever again.”
As part of Haida’s order, the Illinois Department of Human Services must keep Demarcus Barnes in a secure setting, provide treatment plans and reports to the court.
According to evidence, the three defendants stopped Cullen on May 18, 2011, as she left the Fireman’s Hall, then forced her into her own trunk, then drover her car to a remote location near Russell Avenue and Falling Springs Road in East St. Louis. Cunningham told the men that Cullen had seen her license plate number before being put in the trunk so she had to be killed, according to police.
The three defendants split money found in Cullen’s purse. Each got $130.
In a statement, Daquan Barnes said he, Cunningham and his uncle, Demarcus Barnes, planned Cullen’s murder, each striking Cullen with tire irons in an attempt to get Cullen to reveal the PIN for her ATM card. The three left Cullen locked in her trunk and went to a gas station where they bought fuel to set Cullen’s car ablaze.
A coroner’s inquest revealed Cullen was alive when the car was set on fire.