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Johnnel Marks

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Hearing that her youngest son had become the city's 25th homicide victim this year was devastating news for Patricia Marks.

Her son, Johnnel Marks, 20, of East St. Louis was shot to death Friday.

But Patricia Marks was relieved to hear that a suspect has been charged in the case.

Kenyon Edwards, whose last known address was 1235 McCasland Apt. 20 A, was charged Saturday with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death.

Police Chief Michael Baxton said Edwards has a prior criminal history. He was out on probation, Baxton said.

Baxton said he was pleased with the work his detectives did to solve the city's latest homicide. Edwards was in custody within 14 hours, he said.

"We had him charged within 30 hours. This was the result of working around the clock, two days straight. The detectives are really stepping up," Baxton said.

Marks said her son won't be here to share his 7-month-old son's life. "He loved that child," she said.

But news that East St. Louis investigators rounded up the suspect made Patricia Marks happy.

"East St. Louis police have done a superb job in apprehending the suspect," she said.

She said her son and the man accused of killing him weren't friends, but they were acquaintances.

Patricia Marks described her son as "a very friendly, but cautious person."

"He was particular about who he chose as friends. That's why it's hard for me to figure out how somebody could walk up on him," she said.

"It's been very tough for me. My son had just turned 20 years old. He is the youngest of my five children. This is the worst news a mother can get. It's just almost unbearable," Patricia Marks said.

Knowing that the motive for the murder was robbery, Marks said "It shouldn't have resulted in gunfire. That's not the answer," she said.

An aunt, Jackie Simon, said, "East St. Louis police don't get a lot of accolades, but they did an excellent job. They kept us informed day to day about what was going on."

Marks was shot at the John DeShields Housing complex in the 1200 block of Bond Avenue.

Baxton said witnesses told police a group of people had been playing a dice game when a dark-colored car pulled up and someone inside fired shots from the vehicle.

Officer Funeral home on Missouri Avenue is handling funeral services. A wake is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home. The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, on Bond Avenue in East St. Louis.

Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Oct. 8, 2007
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