MURPHYSBORO — A De Soto man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Monday, according to Jackson County Circuit Clerk records. 

James Michael Deese, 52, entered the guilty plea Monday after he was charged in a three-count indictment in March for the murder of Frank Stonemark, 76, of De Soto, and the concealment of his body.

The charges of concealment of a homicidal death and concealment of death were dismissed.

According to the charging documents, Deese murdered Stonemark by strangling or choking him on or about Oct. 29 with the intent to kill or cause great bodily harm to him.

The dismissed charges alleged that Deese attempted to conceal the death by moving the body after he knew the person died from homicidal means, and that the moved the body in order to conceal the place and manner of death. 

Deese will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Jackson County Courthouse. The range of sentencing will be 20 to 60 years and Deese must serve 100 percent of the sentence handed down. There is no possibility of probation with the sentence.

According to court documents signed by Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr, the state has recommended a sentence of 25 years for Deese. He would be 77 years old before he is eligible for release.

Court records show no previous felony convictions for Deese prior to this murder plea.

Deese was defended by Assistant Jackson County Public Defender Thomas Moyer. Before the guilty plea, Deese was scheduled to stand trial on July 16. Deese in April pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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