DeSoto, Ill. man sentenced for 2017 murder

Updated: Jul. 20, 2020 at 1:56 PM CDT
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DESOTO, Ill. (KFVS) - A man was sentenced in the 2017 murder of a 76-year-old man.

James Michael Deese, 54, of DeSoto, was sentenced to 25 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

He pleaded guilty on July 9, 2018 to the murder of Frank Stonemark, 76, also of DeSoto.

The indictment alleged that Deese killed Stonemark by strangling him on October 29, 2017.

A second count charged Deese with concealing the Stonemark’s death knowing he had died by homicidal means and a third count charging him with moving a body from the place of death with intent to conceal information regarding the place and manner of death were dismissed as part of a plea agreement, which required Deese to cooperate in the case involving Stonemark’s wife, Carmen Stonemark.

Because there is no early release program, Deese will be required to serve all 25 years.

According to Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr, Deese is eligible to receive credit for time he has already served since he was arrested on March 22, 2018, so he will not be able to be released until he is 77 years old.

Carmen Stonemark was indicted and convicted of solicitation/murder for hire and concealment of a homicidal death due to Deese’s cooperation with the investigation. She is serving a 20-year sentence in the IDOC and is not eligible for parole until she is 70 years old.

According to State’s Attorney Carr, law enforcement first learned Stonemark was missing after his wife Carmen called and claimed he was missing following an argument she had with him. The investigation revealed that, at the time of the call, she and Deese had already planned for and carried out the murder so that they could be together.

Deese strangled Frank Stonemark, who was in poor health, at Stonemark’s house after making plans to do so with Carmen Stonemark. Both he and Carmen Stonemark participated in removing and destroying the body.

Months after Stonemark was reported missing, Deese was interviewed by detectives from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and admitted his role in the offense. At the same time, he agreed to call and record conversations with Carmen Stonemark, which led to her arrest.

Although the body was never recovered, sheriff’s detectives were able to find Stonemark’s van in Paducah, Kentucky, and forensic evidence revealed Frank Stonemark’s blood on sheetrock located in the van, which Deese admitted was used to transport the body.

Detectives also found forensic evidence corroborating information from Deese that he and Carmen Stonemark hid Frank Stonemark’s body on property owned by the Stonemarks in rural Jackson County.

According to Deese, he and Carmen STonemark destroyed and burned the body months after the murder.

The investigation was conducted by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the DeSoto Police Department, Illinois State Police, Murphysboro Police Department and the Illinois State Police Metro-East Forensic Science Laboratory in Belleville.

State’s Attorney Michael Carr handled the Grand Jury investigation and murder prosecutions.

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