A Murrayville man who was charged with first-degree murder more than two years ago might be headed for trial in early 2023.
34-year-old Kenneth J. Acree appeared in Morgan County Court for a status hearing this afternoon. Acree faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death in the shooting death of 32-year-old Robert Schofield in October of 2020.
A motion by the Morgan County State’s Attorney’s Office to continue was granted by Seventh Circuit Court Judge Ryan Cadagin this afternoon. Morgan County Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner says the continuance was requested after what he hopes is some of the final evidence to be collected in the case.
“We did have returns on the search warrants that were outstanding. I believe after today’s hearing there’s still one outstanding that we’re waiting for evidence to be seized by law enforcement pursuant to that search warrant.
But there have been many search warrants issued in this case. They kinda trickle in at different times. There’s a lot of technological communication type search warrants that we are working on and sometimes those take time.”
Acree is next due in court on January 27th at 2:00 pm. Turner says the State’s Attorney’s Office is hopeful that when Acree next appears in front of Judge Cadigan, the case can finally move forward.
“I do think that there’s a good chance that by that date that both sides will have exchanged all of the information that we call discovery and that both sides will in essence have all of the evidence that the other side intends to present at trial. Which is always the stumbling block to getting a case to trial.
Once we get over that hurdle, yeah we can set a realistic date for some type of conclusion to the case whether it’s a jury trial or a bench trial. But yeah, I would think relatively soon after that January 27th we’ll bring this case to a conclusion.”
Acree remains held at the Morgan County Jail on a $1.5 million dollar bond. His council has filed a self-defense claim in the case. Acree is also accused of allegedly trying to hide Schofield’s body by burying it in a field in Nortonville. If convicted of the first-degree murder charge with a firearm, Acree faces 45 years to life in prison.
Also facing charges in connection to the shooting death are 36-year-old Laura C. Acree and 29-year-old Sara M. Schofield, the wives of the accused and the decedent. They have also been charged with concealment of a homicidal death in the case. Sara Schofield is next due in court on January 4th, and Laura Acree is next due to appear on February 7th.