Southern Illinois judge orders man accused of burning woman in truck held in state hospital


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BELLEVILLE, Illinois — A southern Illinois judge has ordered a suspect in the killing of an 85-year-old woman held in a state psychiatric hospital to see if he can become mentally fit for trial.

DeMarcus Barnes, 31, on Thursday was returned to the Illinois Department of Human Services for evaluation and treatment Thursday, the Belleville News-Democrat reports ( ). He is being held in the death of Yoko Cullen, whose charred body was found in the trunk of her car in May 2011.

Authorities say Barnes stole the woman's bingo winnings along with his cousin DaQuan Barnes and LaTosha Cunningham, who are serving 60-year sentences.

Cullen was alive when the vehicle was burned, investigators said. DNA testing later identified her.

In testimony Thursday, DaQuan Barnes said he, DeMarcus Barnes and Cunningham followed Cullen as she left the bingo hall parking lot in her car. They stopped her and forced her into the trunk, DaQuan Barnes said.

Later, they began attacking Cullen with tire irons while trying to learn the PIN of her ATM card, according to DaQuan Barnes. They slammed the trunk lid on her as she tried to fight back, he said.

A video played during the hearing from an East St. Louis gas station showed what a prosecutor said was DaQuan Barnes going inside and buying a gas can, with DeMarcus Barnes and Cunningham standing nearby.

Burglary and weapons charges against DaQuan Barnes were dropped in exchange for his testimony.

The state can hold DeMarcus Barnes for five years. If he is not found fit for trial he can then be committed as a "danger to society."

Information from: Belleville News-Democrat,

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