the republic logo

Defense seeks psychological testimony in trial of Auburn triple killing

bug
Share/Save/Bookmark

OPELIKA, Alabama — Lawyers for a man accused of killing two former Auburn football players and a third person asked a judge Friday to allow testimony about his mental state to bolster claims of self-defense.

Defense attorneys told Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III during a hearing that Desmonte Leonard, 24, had been shot before and was especially sensitive to perceived threats.

Susan James, representing Leonard, said testimony from a psychologist who examined Leonard in July "goes to the heart of our defense" about his reactions and should be allowed.

Prosecutors opposed the request, saying Leonard isn't using an insanity defense. District Attorney Robbie Treese said letting jurors hear such evidence would put the state at a "tremendous disadvantage."

Walker said he would decide whether jurors can hear the evidence before opening arguments are held in Leonard's trial, which opens Monday with the start of jury selection.

Officials said it could take four or five days to select a jury.

Leonard, of Montgomery, contends he fired in self-defense at a pool party at an apartment complex in Auburn in 2012, killing three people and wounding others. He has pleaded not guilty to capital murder, attempted murder and assault, but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Former Auburn football players Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian were killed, as well as DeMario Pitts of Opelika. Three more people were hurt.

Testimony during an earlier hearing showed the shooting began outside a pool clubhouse near the Auburn campus after Leonard argued with an Auburn football player.

Leonard was the subject of an intense manhunt for three days before finally surrendering at the federal courthouse in Montgomery.

Leonard has been held in the Montgomery County jail since his arrest, and James told Walker she is "extremely concerned" about a plan to transfer him to the Lee County jail during the trial. Leonard's safety could be endangered, she said.

James requested that the judge ask law enforcement to consider housing Leonard in another county, but Walker said that wasn't his decision.

"How the sheriff wants to hand security I'll leave to the sheriff's discretion," he said.

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

Story copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2014 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.