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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

60 Years, No Parole, for Killing Elderly Woman

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) - A woman who led a group that kidnapped and burned an elderly woman to death, falsely believing she had won money at bingo, was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

LaTosha Cunningham, 40, of Belleville, was one of three people charged in the May 2011 murder of Yoko Cullen, 85.

Cunningham received the maximum sentence Tuesday and will not be eligible for parole.

Prosecutors in St. Clair County Court said Cunningham was the ringleader of the group, who kidnapped and beat Cullen with a tire iron as she left a bingo hall. They forced Cullen into the trunk of her car and set it on fire.

Police said Cullen's trachea was coated with soot, indicating that she was alive when the car was set on fire.

The attackers regularly attended the bingo hall and mistakenly thought Cullen had won a lot of money.

DaQuan D. Barnes, 21, of Granite City, was sentenced in November to 60 years without parole.

Demarcus Barnes, 30, of Belleville, was found mentally unfit for trial.

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