Auburn shooter formally arraigned, does not enter plea
Desmonte Leonard, 22, was booked and formally charged in Lee County, AL, on Thursday. (Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office)
An unmarked police car which was likely carrying Leonard leaves the Montgomery County Detention Facility. (Source: WSFA)
Police suspect Leonard of shooting and killing former Auburn football players 20-year-old LaDarious Phillips, left, and 20-year-old Ed Christian, right, along with one other. Three others were injured. (Source: WBRC/WALB)
AUBURN, AL (RNN) - Desmonte Leonard, the man police say killed three and injured three others at a party near Auburn University on June 9, was formally charged with three counts of capital murder and two counts of second-degree assault this morning.
Leonard, 22, is ineligible for bond and has thirty days to enter a plea in the case.
The court appointed high-profile attorney Susan James to defend him when his case goes to trial, according to Montgomery affiliate WSFA. James last made headlines representing former Country Crossing casino spokesperson Jay Walker in a federal gambling corruption trial.
Walker, along with the other defendants in the case, were found not guilty.
Leonard was arraigned at the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika, AL, two days after he turned himself in to U.S. Marshals. The arrest was the culmination of a three-day manhunt.
"He was very cooperative when he turned himself in," Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson told WSFA Wednesday. "Very cooperative and he actually offered an apology for what he did. He told investigators he was sorry."
Dawson added that the apology didn't amount to a confession.
Montgomery attorney Susan James helped facilitate his surrender. She said Leonard likely turned himself in because he was tired of running from police.
"I think he wanted somebody to tell him what to do," she said.
Despite the manpower and tactical efforts, officers left the home empty-handed.
The shootings took place June 9 at the University Heights apartment complex, just 1 1/2 miles from Auburn University. Shots erupted at a party near the complex's clubhouse around 10 p.m.
According to police affidavits, Leonard was identified as the shooter by witnesses on the scene.
The shooting left three wounded and three dead, including two former Auburn football players.
"Thank you to the parents of these victims. I know your young men won't be coming home, but hopefully this arrest will give you some closure," Dawson said last night.
"We'll never forget the victims in this case and we'll never forget what happened Saturday night."
Former Auburn offensive lineman Ed Christian, 20, and fullback LaDarious Phillips, 20, were both shot to death. Christian had been playing with the team, but left because of injury. He was found dead at the scene. Phillips was pronounced dead at the East Alabama Medical Center.
Auburn resident DeMario Pitts, 20, also was killed.
Another player set to join the team's offensive line, 20-year-old Eric Mack, was among the injured, although he is expected to survive.
Xavier Moss, 19, was treated and released from the East Alabama Medical Center. John Robertson, 20, is still struggling for life at the UAB Medical Center with critical injuries.
"It was a fight that obviously someone got out of hand and shot and killed three people and critically injured another," Dawson said Sunday.
Police said they have a possible motive, but would not discuss the details of the case.
A witness to the shooting told Birmingham's WBRC the fight started over a woman.
"It went from us chilling with females to a massacre … for no reason," an unidentified witness told Montgomery affiliate WSFA.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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