Jury deliberates less than two hours -- Guilty

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Jury deliberates less than two hours -- Guilty

Cathy Decker/Staff Reporter

A Mercer County Jury in the case of the State of Illinois vs. Cindy Lea Stewart took less than two hours on Wednesday, June 22 to come up with guilty verdicts on two meth-related charges filed in early 2011.

Cindy Stewart was one of three individuals charged in a meth making operation on Jan. 16, 2011.

Count 1, was aggravated unlawful participation in methamphetamine production, a class X felony; Count 2, was unlawful participation in methamphetamine production, a class 1 felony.

The jury reconvened in the courtroom just before 1 p.m. with the double guilty verdict.

"The jury did a good job," Mercer County States Attorney Gregory McHugh said after the trial. "If you make meth in Mercer County, you're going to go to jail," is the message McHugh wants to get out.

He said Cindy Stewart faces from six to 14 years in prison for these convictions. "There's no probation," said McHugh. "She'll have to serve at least 75 percent."

The judge ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set sentencing for 1 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8.

The State's Attorney asked the judge to send Cindy Stewart to jail immediately after the sentence was declared, but Judge Frank Fuhr said she could remain out of jail until her sentencing hearing, because she has no previous criminal convictions.

In a plea agreement Cindy's husband, James L. Stewart, was convicted earlier this month of a Class 1 felony charge of unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing, less than 15 grams. He received a sentence of 10 years in the Department of Corrections, and a fine of $3,874. A second charge -- possession of anhydrous ammonia with the intent of manufacturing methamphetamine, was dismissed.

A third man arrested at the Stewart residence on Jan. 16, 2011, Joseph Engle of Monmouth, 25, was charged with possession of methamphetamine precursors, less than 15 grams, which is a class 2 felony. He is set to appear in a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 8, 2011.