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Second brother pleads in '83 death of Peoria man; one defendant remains

Kent Bobell accepts deal for involuntary manslaughter

DIXON – The second of two brothers accused of participating in a murder more than 35 years ago pleaded guilty this morning to involuntary manslaughter.

Gordon “Kent” Bobell, 69, of Chillicothe, will be sentenced Dec. 12 in Lee County Court. He faces 2 to 5 years in prison.

Bobell is charged in the Aug. 28, 1983, death of Gary Dawson, 30, who was bound with duct tape, stabbed and beaten to death, his naked body dumped in a Franklin Grove hog pen – which is how Lee County came to prosecute the cold case.

Bobell and his brother, Terry Bobell, each were charged with five counts of first-degree murder.

Terry Bobell, 72, also of Chillicothe, pleaded guilty Aug. 2, 2018, to obstruction of justice and was put on probation for a year and a half.

Both men agreed to plead to the lesser charges.

Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

Acknowledging what some may consider to be a light sentence, State’s Attorney Matt Klahn noted the difficulty of obtaining any kind of conviction in a 35-year-old cold case, and noted that Kent Bobell “did cooperate in getting us as close to the truth as possible” in the events of that day.

A third defendant, Steven Watts, 61, of Berryville, Arkansas, still is charged with one count of first-degree murder. He has a pretrial conference Nov. 14.

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