Belleville man convicted in stabbing death of wife

News-DemocratFebruary 6, 2014 

A St. Clair County judge convicted a man on Thursday of the stabbing murder of his estranged wife and her new boyfriend.

John Cole, 24, of Belleville, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Cole stabbed his wife, 20-year-old Le'Nae Bass Cole, and her boyfriend, Xzavion O'Neal on July 9, 2012, prosecutors said. John Cole's cousin Garfield J. Fenton was also charged in connection to the murder.

LeNae Cole and O'Neal were in a duplex at 607 E. McKinley in Belleville when John Cole and Fenton broke in.

The two men stabbed LeNae Cole and O'Neal repeatedly, according to police. LeNae Cole later died.

LeNae Cole, then age 20, filed for an order of protection against John Cole on April 20, 2012 after an incident where she said that he choked her and tied her to a chair for two hours. She received the order on May 7, 2012.

She filed for divorce on May 12, 2012. The divorce was pending at the time of the murder.

"This was a brutal vicious act which never should have taken place because the court ordered him to stay away," said Laura Reppert, who prosecuted the case with Kristi Hodel.

LeNae Cole sustained 33 stab wounds during the attack, according to testimony at the trial.

Chief Judge John Baricevic presided over the bench trial and found John Cole guilty after hearing the testimony and arguments.

LeNae and John Cole's daughters , JAnyah and JeNae, then ages 1 and 4, were in the duplex at the time of their mother was stabbed to death.

Fenton, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in September. Fenton is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence at Menard Correctional Center.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura Reppert and Kristi Hodel prosecuted the case.

Belleville attorney Rick Roustio represented John Cole. Roustio could not immediately be reached for comment.

Baricevic presided over John Cole's trial and is scheduled to sentence him on March 19.

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