32 year old Kenneth J. Acree was arraigned in Morgan County Court this afternoon. Acree has been charged with 3 counts of first degree murder and 1 count of concealment of a homicidal death in connection to the death and disappearance of Robert “Joey” Schofield.
The charges allege that Acree murdered Schofield without any justification with a firearm on or about Sunday, October 4th. The concealment charge alleges that Acree buried Schofield’s body after he died in order to conceal his manner of death. Schofield’s body was found buried in a field off of Gobbler Road in rural Murrayville on Thursday by search teams. According to Morgan County Coroner Marcy Patterson, Schofield died from multiple gunshot wounds. The body and grave was found four days after Schofield was listed officially missing.
Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll says that there is an aggravating factor in the murder charges that could lead to Acree’s life imprisonment if found guilty: “Generally, in Illinois, murder sentencing range is 20-60 years non-probationable. Whenever a firearm is used, the sentence is enhanced. In this particular case, it’s an additional minimum of 25 years with a maximum of life.”
Acree appeared in court with Springfield Attorney W. Scott Hanken as counsel in the case before Morgan County Circuit Judge Chris Reif. Acree entered a plea of not guilty and requested a trial by jury. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The jury trial has been set for December 2nd at 10:30AM. Acree’s bond has been set at $1.5 million. If convicted of any of the 3 counts of first degree murder, Acree faces 25 years up to life in prison, 3 years mandatory supervised release, and a $25,000 fine. If found guilty of the concealment charge, a Class 3 Felony, he faces up to 2 to 5 years in prison, 1 year mandatory supervised release, and up to a $25,000 fine. Acree would also have to serve 100% of the sentence due to the aggravating factor of using a firearm. If convicted of the murder charge and the concealment charge together, Acree would serve the sentences consecutively.