Belleville man sentenced for killing estranged wife

News-DemocratApril 30, 2014 

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, in a 2012 file photo.

TIM VIZER/BND

A man who fatally stabbed his estranged wife and wounded another man was sentenced to 53 years in prison, according to St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

John M. Cole, 25, of Belleville, was convicted of murder for killing Le'Nae Cole by stabbing her 33 times while his children with the victim were in the next room. He was convicted of attempted murder for stabbing Xzavion O'Neil 17 times.

At the time of the murder, Cole's estranged wife had an order of protection against him.

Circuit Judge John Baricevic, who found Cole guilty during a bench trial Feb. 5, sentenced him to 41 years in prison on the murder count and 12 for the attempted murder count.

Assistant State's Attorney Laura Reppert said she believes the sentence is appropriate.

"It is incomprehensible that he would expose his two children, who he should be protecting and making safe, to such horrific violence," Reppert said. "Le'Nae's children will now only know their mother through pictures and stories."

Baricevic ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.

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