Before his rape and carjacking trial, he broke another man’s back in jail, police say

Leondre McClendon
Leondre McClendon Provided

A little more than a week before he went on trial for rape and carjacking, an inmate struck another man in the St. Clair County Jail with such force that the man had “several fractures” to his upper vertebrae.

Leondre McClendon, 18, was charged Tuesday with four counts of aggravated battery in the Aug. 11 attack. He will continue to be held without bond, according to a warrant signed by Judge Robert Haida.

McClendon was found guilty by a jury on Aug. 22 of the sexual assault and carjacking of a west Belleville woman in 2016, when he was 16. Two other juveniles were also charged in the carjacking. His sentencing in that case is scheduled for Oct. 4.

McClendon had earlier pleaded guilty but mentally ill, and Haida sentenced him nearly 70 years in prison. His attorneys filed a motion to withdraw the plea, which the judge allowed in March because McClendon had not understood his potential sentence.

Charges say McClendon “struck, kicked and stomped” the man on the head and body, causing “acute fractures of the left L1-L4 transverse processes” during the Aug. 11 incident. The victim, 59-year-old Timothy Little, had been brought to the jail two days earlier on charges of violating an order of protection and a warrant. Little remains in custody on $50,000 bail.

The Sheriff’s Department says McClendon acted alone in the attack and that others were nearby, but no one else was injured.

Capt. Bruce Fleshren said McClendon had been taken to isolation immediately after the incident. The other inmate has since returned to custody after receiving medical treatment at a hospital.

Mary Cooley: 618-239-2535; @MaryCooleyBND