Metro-East News

18-year-old may testify during Belleville rape, carjacking trial

Belleville sexual assault victim attacked in garage

In this file video, Belleville Det.Sgt. Mark Heffernan talks about the crime where a woman was ambushed in her garage in early May by a trio of men, one of them armed with a handgun. Two of the suspects stole the woman’s 2015 Mini Cooper and the t
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In this file video, Belleville Det.Sgt. Mark Heffernan talks about the crime where a woman was ambushed in her garage in early May by a trio of men, one of them armed with a handgun. Two of the suspects stole the woman’s 2015 Mini Cooper and the t

A man accused of raping a woman in her garage during an armed carjacking may testify during his trial this week in St. Clair County.

Lawyers for Leondre McClendon, now 18, also told Judge Robert Haida on Tuesday that the teenager did not want the jury to be given instructions to consider lesser charges.

McClendon faces charges of aggravated sexual assault, car jacking and aggravated robbery. They stem from a May 5, 2016 attack on a woman in her 20s. Police wrote in a search warrant affidavit that a woman pulled into her garage on Parkridge Drive about 10 p.m. and was confronted by three suspects who came into her garage. One of the suspects had a gun and they demanded the keys to her 2015 Mini Cooper, her day planner and her cell phone.

Two of the suspects fled in the car, according to police. McClendon is accused of staying there with the woman, holding a gun to her head and raping her.

On Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Bernadette Schrempp brought police officers who were involved in chasing a stolen vehicle testify. Police said the chase through Belleville, including on West Main and in residential areas, exceeded speeds of 100 miles an hour.

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Leondre McClendon has been at the Menard Correctional Facility since December. With his plea deal successfully withdrawn, he was remanded into custody of the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department.

Schrempp also had scientists with the Illinois State Police crime lab take the stand to testify about fingerprints and DNA. Defense attorney Cathy MacElroy objected to some of some of the statistical analysis used, however.

While the jury was on its afternoon break, MacElroy asked for a directed verdict, saying the state had not met the proof necessary to proceed. Haida denied the motion.

The defense will begin its case on Wednesday at 10 a.m., MacElroy said. The attorney said she and co-counsel Grant Menges had advised McClendon not to testify.

McClendon was 16 in 2016 when he was initially charged but he is being tried as an adult. Two other suspects were also juveniles and were not tried as adults.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535, @MaryCooleyBND
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