Jurors see video of Auburn triple killing
Sep. 30, 2014
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Video shown in court Monday depicted the chaotic scene of a shooting that killed two one-time Auburn University football players and another man, with the victims falling and struggling on the ground as partygoers scattered amid the crack of gunfire.
Prosecutors played surveillance video from the apartment clubhouse where the shooting occurred and also showed still photos of the victims' bullet-riddled bodies during the capital murder trial of Desmonte Leonard, 24.
Leonard, who is charged with capital murder and other crimes, contends he fired in self-defense.
The shooting occurred outside an apartment complex clubhouse during a large party in June 2012, and 10 cameras recorded different views of the scene. Most of what jurors saw was a confusing array of multiple views all playing in small squares at the same time on one screen.
In one sequence, the soundless video showed a large crowd in a corridor during the party. People suddenly scatter, apparently at the sound of gunshots, and two men fall to the ground before struggling back to their feet and moving away.
The shooter isn't shown, and a witness didn't identify anyone shown in the video. Prosecutors plan to show different video views during the testimony of people present at the party.
Prosecutors say Leonard pulled the trigger, killing former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and a third man, DeMario Pitts of Opelika.
Former Auburn player Eric Mack was wounded and survived, along with Xavier Moss and John Robertson.
The defense doesn't deny that Leonard fired the shots, but Leonard's lawyers contend he was on the ground being attacked during a fight and fired only to save his own life.
Relatives of the victims showed little reaction to the video, but they were visibly upset when photographs of the dead and wounded men were projected on a TV screen as a police officer described holes where bullets entered and exited their bodies.
A woman in the audience held tissues to her mouth as close-up photos of Pitts' body flashed on the screen. Another woman covered her eyes with her hands.
Some audience members bowed their heads and closed their eyes as an officer described the bullet wound to Robertson's right temple, and a juror took notes while a gruesome photo of Moss' bloody wound filled the screen.
Before jurors entered the courtroom, Auburn University attorney Louis Calligas cited student privacy concerns in objecting to a defense subpoena seeking drug-testing records on students including Christian, Phillips and Mack, who were subject to drug screening as athletes.
Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III said he would look at the documents in private and rule later on whether they could be shown to jurors.