20 years for Paris woman tied to Tolono man's death

20 years for Paris woman tied to Tolono man's death

MARSHALL — A Paris woman already imprisoned for drug-related convictions has been sentenced to 20 more years in prison for crimes related to the May 2016 death of a Tolono man.

Karla Kelly, 46, pleaded guilty Thursday in Clark County to concealment of a homicidal death and possession of a stolen vehicle, admitting that she was in the truck belonging to Dennis Bates and that she knew his body was hidden near the rural Marshall home of her co-defendant, Eric Wycoff, 47.

In return for her guilty pleas, charges alleging she took part in his murder were dismissed.

Mr. Bates, 57, of the 600 block of East Main Street, Tolono, was found dead May 5, 2016, wrapped in a tarp in a shallow ditch in woods not far from Wycoff's mobile home.

Judge Tracy Resch sentenced Kelly to 10 years on each count, to be served one after the other. And those sentences will be served after she finishes four prison sentences she's currently serving in cases out of Coles and Edgar counties for forgery and possession of methamphetamine.

Kelly was set to be tried next week in Marshall.

Clark County Public Defender Bill McGrath worked out the agreement with State's Attorney Kyle Hutson, who could not be reached for comment.

Wycoff is tentatively set to be tried for Mr. Bates' murder, concealment of his death and possession of his stolen truck in early January.

McGrath said Kelly has implicated Wycoff in the killing and plans to testify against him.

"She didn't see anybody get hit. She just saw him (Wycoff) on top of (Mr. Bates)," McGrath said.

An autopsy determined Mr. Bates died of blunt force trauma. The murder charges allege he was struck in the head with an object but no weapon was specified.

McGrath said his client admitted that she was aware Mr. Bates' body was in the woods near Wycoff's home and didn't tell authorities about it and that she took part in using his truck for a couple of days following his death until she and Wycoff were arrested.

Another charge of obstructing justice, alleging that Kelly gave police a false name because she was trying to avoid being arrested on an outstanding warrant, was also dismissed as part of her plea agreement.

Kelly is eligible for day-for-day good time on the 20-year sentence. The potential sentences were extendible because Mr. Bates was considered physically disabled.

A small man, Mr. Bates was well known in Tolono, where he graduated from Unity High School in 1978. He has family in that area.

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