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Accused killer out on bond
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Pictured is the building facing Morford Street where Barry Cole was reportedly killed in 2017.
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Leverett

A man accused of committing a gruesome murder where the victim was stabbed more than 30 times is now free on bond.

Wesley Lex Leverett had his bond reduced from $1 million to $30,000 during a hearing before Judge Bart Stanley on Monday morning. He made bond Monday afternoon.

“This is a guy who’s charged with first-degree murder and we’re looking for him to serve life in prison without chance of parole,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “I was definitely opposed to lower bond and him getting out of jail.”

Leverett, 29, had been in jail since his arrest on Feb. 17, 2017. He is charged with killing Barry Cole, 55, in an outbuilding across from Super Rama on Morford Street.

His attorney, Joshua Crain, said he requested lower bond in part due to the length of time Leverett has served in jail without being convicted of any crime.

His trial has been postponed several times. The most recent trial date of Sept. 25 has been delayed again and the new scheduled trial date is Jan. 29, 2021.

“Like everyone else, we’re having to deal with a lot of things due to COVID-19,” said Crain. “With prospective jurors having to wear masks and with social distancing in place, there are serious constitutional issues when it comes to a jury trial. This is not the best case to move forward with at this time and he’s already served more than three years in jail awaiting trial.”

Zavogiannis said she opposes Leverett’s lower bond because he has confessed to the crime and that confession has been upheld as being admissible in court.

During an evidence suppression hearing, investigator Stuart Colwell testified to the gruesome nature of the murder, saying Cole was stabbed over 30 times and beaten with a wooden club. An electric Dremel tool was used to carve his face, Colwell testified.

Several of the trial delays are the result of Leverett opting to change attorneys. He was originally represented by the Public Defender’s Office before deciding to retain a private attorney in Crain.

“It’s not our fault he decided to change attorneys. We have our case ready to go,” said Zavogiannis, who also pointed out Leverett has nothing to lose since he is already facing life in prison without chance of parole.

Crain says many of the delays are out of his control.

“We wouldn’t be seeing this in the same light if we weren’t in a pandemic,” said Crain. “I will say that I’ve practiced law in front of a number of judges and I’ve found Judge Stanley to be one of the most conscientious judges there is. He’s very concerned about making sure we protect the process and that everyone is treated fairly.”

As terms of his release, Leverett is supposed to wear an ankle monitor and remain on house arrest.