WOODSTOCK – Though Kelly Krause and Jim McGIll lived through a brutal attack, though they survived 23 knife wounds, part of them died the night Jimmy Bell broke into his ex-girlfriend's home and stabbed the sleeping couple, prosecutors said.
Injuries from the attack on July 2, 2013 required surgery and left them both with permanent reminders. Krause has a deep scar on her cheek from lip to ear.
"Time does not heal wounds like this. They are permanent," Assistant State's Attorney Dave Johnston said.
He asked the judge to sentence Bell to 60 years in prison on attempted murder and armed violence charges. "This defendant sentenced these families to a lifetime, carrying with them the permanent physical scars."
Instead, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather sentenced the Elgin man to 38 years in prison. Bell, 31, must serve 85 percent of that sentence, or about 32 years, before he's eligible for release.
Supporters of Krause and McGill openly wept after the judge handed down Bell's sentence but declined comment after the hearing.
Bell – appearing before the judge meek and soft spoken – asked the families for forgiveness. He avoided eye contact with them throughout the hearing.
"I wasn't raised that way," he said. "I was raised to help people not hurt them. I can't explain the pain I caused. I do deserve punishment. I can't justify any of this."
Speaking on her younger brother's behalf, his sister Keeshia Barnes said Bell was a provider for his family.
"God has forgiven you, and prayer is going to get us all through," she said.
Assistant Public Defender Rick Behof asked for the minimum sentence for his client.
"Jimmy Bell can't answer … why he did what he did," Behof said.
He pointed to Bell's limited criminal history. And while Prather acknowledged that he had lived a relatively law-abiding life up until the attack, she said no "factors excuse or justify the cruel, vicious, brutal attack on Mr. McGill and Ms. Krause."
The two-day sentencing hearing unfolded much like an abbreviated trial. Prosecutors presented gruesome crime scene photos, evidence collected from Krause's Crystal Lake home, and testimony from doctors, detectives and first responders. On a 911 recording played for the court, McGill tells the dispatcher he was on the verge of passing out, while Krause screams frantically in the background, pleading for help.
Just after 4 a.m. on July 2, 2013, Bell broke into the house through a basement window. He crept upstairs and attacked the couple in their sleep. Krause's daughter with Bell slept through the ordeal.
Bell later fled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where he was apprehended by authorities there six days after the attack.
He previously pleaded guilty to attempted murder and armed violence in an agreement with prosecutors.