Desmonte Leonard found guilty in 2012 Auburn murders

(Photo source: Montgomery Co. Sheriff's Dept.)
(Photo source: Montgomery Co. Sheriff's Dept.)

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Desmonte Leonard has been found guilty in the capital murders of DeMario Pitts of Opelika and former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips.

It took the Lee County jury about five hours to find Leonard guilty on all but one of the six charges stemming from a deadly shooting that killed three men and injured three more at the University Heights Apartment complex back in June 2012.

On Tuesday, Oct. 7 Leonard was found guilty of the following charges:

Assault 2nd degree for shooting Eric Mack

Assault 2nd degree for shooting Xavier Moss

Assault 1st degree for shooting John Robertson

Attempted murder of DeAngelo Benton

Capital murder for killing two or more people in the same act

Leonard was found not guilty for the attempted murder of Turquorius Vines.

We spoke with DeMario Pitt's sister Sharonda Woods soon after the verdict was reached, who said she is relieved that the ordeal is over.

"I'm really just glad it's over," Woods said. "It's really been draining us having to relive this. I'm happy with the verdict, but it doesn't bring him back."

The district attorney says they will not comment until after Leonard is sentenced. We did speak Leonard's defense attorney Susan James about their reaction.

"We did go back and we talked to him," James said. "We kind of outlined what was going to happen. He didn't say very much I mean obviously he's disappointed. He's worried about his family that's any part of this.. He could hear them weeping during the verdict. It's, you know, he's facing the death penalty so you can imagine his spirits weren't very high."

Leonard's defense team says they lost in court today, but their fight continues tomorrow to now try and save their client's life. 

Jury will begin the sentencing phase Wednesday morning and will recommended life in prison or the death penalty. The judge will make the ultimate decision on sentencing.


The investigation and trial of the Desmonte Leonard shooting has spanned the last two years, and News Leader 9 has been following the case from the beginning.

June 9, 2012 – mass shooting at University Heights apartment complex kills three Auburn University football players and injures three other men.

June 12, 2012 – Desmonte Leonard turns himself into authorities after being named a suspect

August 2012 – Leonard is indicted on six counts, including capital murder

October 3, 2014 - Leonard takes the stand in his own defense

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