BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS (KTVI)- Two men charged with the murder of a Belleville woman and the stabbing of her boyfriend during a home invasion Monday made their first appearance in court Thursday morning.
Security was unusually high as family members of 23-year old John Cole and 21 year old Garfield Fenton came to the St. Clair County Courthouse for arraignment on charges of first degree murder.
The two men are cousins.
What at first appeared Monday, to be a random home invasion by masked men ended with a woman murdered and her boyfriend stabbed multiple times.
Police allege one of the masked attackers was John Cole,. the estranged husband of 23-year old Lenae Cole, killed by a stab wound to the neck.
She was known to friends and family by her middle name, Shakira.
Garfield Fenton is alleged to have been Cole`s accomplice.
Family members of the murder victim were not in court for the arraignment, but several members of John Cole`s immediate family were there.
They declined to be interviewed.
But FOX 2 news did speak with the father of 26-year old Zavion O`Neal, who was stabbed during the attack 17 times. Zavion had been dating Lenae Cole for about a month, and according to his father, is the one who unmasked John Cole and was stabbed trying to keep him from getting to Lenae.
"We have monsters in our community and these two monsters came in and killed a girl and tried to kill a second person and they need to be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law," said James O`Neal, Zavion`s father.
After the arraignment, James O`Neal had a brief but heated exchange of words with John Cole`s mother, who cautioned O`Neal to remember that her son is only accused of the murder, not convicted.
But her warning fell on deaf ears.
"You can`t defend what they`ve done," O`Neal said. "They took a life and tried to take another one and the young man that followed his friend into this, damn him too. How could you allow someone to talk you into murder. They`re animals and they deserve exactly what they are going to get."
Both men are charged with first degree murder and home invasion, with Cole facing an additional charge of attempted murder.
Zavion O`Neal, is hospitalized in stable condition.
The bond for both Cole and Fenton is set at $1.5 million each.