FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. (TCD) — A jury found an Eldorado man guilty this week of fatally stabbing a man in the heart during an argument as the two men drove down a rural road.
On Thursday, March 23, the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Heath Dunning was convicted of first-degree murder and felon in possession of a weapon for the April 2021 death of Dennis “Lance” Martin. Dunning’s trial lasted three days, and the jury reached their decision after three hours of deliberation.
On April 15, 2021, just before 9 p.m., Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a road in West Frankfort and found 50-year-old Martin suffering from a stab wound. He was declared dead at the scene, and deputies arrested Dunning on suspicion of murder.
According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, on the night of the stabbing, Dunning was driving Martin’s van and the two men fought over “Dunning’s direction of travel.” Martin reportedly tried to take the keys out of the ignition. Then, Dunning grabbed a knife and “swung toward Martin’s chest, plunging the blade between Martin’s ribs and deep into Martin’s heart.”
Dunning pulled over in a driveway and called 911. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responded, but the statement said Martin’s “damage was immediately fatal.”
He died before paramedics arrived.
Dunning was previously convicted of aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, and burglary.
The State’s Attorney’s Office says Dunning will be sentenced at a later date.
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