Leondre McClendon was 16 when police said he raped a young Belleville woman in her home, then he and two others stole her Mini Cooper from her garage and took it for a joy ride.
On Monday, just before his trial was to begin, McClendon pleaded guilty but mentally ill to six felony charges as an adult, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly confirmed.
McClendon’s attorneys, Cathy MacElroy and Grant Menges, declined to comment.
McClendon, now 17, was in court last week for an apparent plea, but that fell through. Circuit Judge Bob Haida was to begin the trial with jury selection Monday.
McClendon was 16 and on electronic monitoring for undisclosed juvenile crimes when he and two others confronted a 20-year-old woman in the garage of her home on Parkridge Drive in Belleville, police said. It was just after 10 p.m. and she pulled her 2015 Mini Cooper into the garage. One of the suspects had a gun. The three men demanded the keys to her car, her day planner and her cell phone. Two left in the car. McClendon stayed behind, police said.
He held a gun to the woman’s head and raped her, then forced her to perform oral sex on him before running away, police have said. The victim ran to a neighbor’s house. Police were called.
Hours after the assault, police spotted a Mini Cooper driving near 80th Street in East St. Louis without lights. Police gave chase with speeds that exceeded 100 mph and ended in McClendon’s driveway on Ben Louis Drive in Belleville. Two suspects jumped from the car, which crashed into a dumpster, then drove into a concrete ravine.
Two suspects were charged in the case. Their cases are closed because they are juveniles.
Although she didn’t know her attackers, DNA taken from the victim matched McClendon.
A search warrant filed in the case revealed McClendon was under court-ordered electronic monitoring at the time of the sexual assault. The electronic monitor revealed that McClendon was in the area of the crime at the time.
McClendon could face a prison sentence of 16 to 110 years.