Marshall man gets 30 years for killing disabled Tolono man

Marshall man gets 30 years for killing disabled Tolono man

MARSHALL — A Marshall man is serving a 30-year prison sentence after admitting last month that he killed a disabled Tolono man in 2016.

Eric Wycoff, 47, pleaded guilty in early December to the second-degree murder of Dennis Bates, 57, who lived in the 600 block of East Main Street in Tolono.

The charge to which Wycoff pleaded stated that "while acting under a sudden and intense passion," he struck the disabled Mr. Bates in the head with an unspecified object, killing him.

On May 5, 2016, Mr. Bates was found dead in a shallow ditch in woods not far from Wycoff's mobile home in northern Clark County, north of Interstate 70. He was wrapped in a tarp.

In return for Wycoff's plea to second-degree murder, Clark County State's Attorney Kyle Hutson dismissed more-serious charges of first-degree murder.

In a separate but related case, Wycoff also pleaded guilty to possession of stolen vehicle for having Mr. Bates' truck, for a sentence of six years in prison, to be served after he finishes the 30 years for the murder.

In exchange for that plea, Hutson dismissed charges of concealment of a homicidal death and unlawful use of a debit card.

Hutson refused to release details about what led to Mr. Bates' death and his offer to let Wycoff plead guilty to second-degree murder, a Class 1 felony.

"The plea was based on all the available evidence and an assessment of that evidence by the prosecution and the defense," Hutson said in an email to The News-Gazette. "Out of respect for the memory and family of Dennis Bates, I will not go into detail about the specific facts of the case."

Clark County court records show Wycoff had other convictions for driving under revocation and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A 1978 graduate of Unity High School, Mr. Bates was well known in Tolono and has family in that area.

Department of Corrections records show that Wycoff is eligible for parole in 2034.

Wycoff's co-defendant, Karla Kelly, 46, of Paris, pleaded guilty in October in Clark County to concealment of a homicidal death and possession of a stolen vehicle for her role in Mr. Bates' death.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison for her crimes, to be served after she finishes sentences she was serving for convictions in Coles and Edgar counties for forgery and possession of methamphetamine.

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