OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - The Lee County jury who convicted Desmonte Leonard of capital murder will spend the next two days deciding his fate. They will make a recommendation of life in prison or the death penalty to the judge.
The family and friends of the now-convicted killer begged the jury for mercy Wednesday, Oct. 8.
It was an emotional day in court as Desmonte Leonard listened to family and friends plead for his life.
Leonard's sister Shahara Leonard testified their father was in prison and not around, while their mother beat them severely as kids. She says her brother tried to protect his siblings.
"Please grant him life without parole," Shahara asked jurors while crying. "He has a 2-year-old daughter he hasn't seen. He has a family that stands behind him. If you could just talk to him you would see he is not a monster."
Leonard has at least two young children by two different women. Both mothers asked the jury to spare his life, saying he was a loving and helpful father. Leonard has never seen his 2-year-old girl because the mother was pregnant at the time of the shooting.
Most every family and friend who testified expressed their apologies and sorrow to the victims' families. But when one of Leonard's relatives asked the families to forgive Leonard, many shook their heads "no" as if to say they could not forgive him.
Under Alabama law, jurors will not hear victim impact statements from the families of the three men Leonard killed during an argument at an Auburn apartment complex.
Victim impact statements will be heard by the judge in a future court date. The judge will consider the jury's recommendation but will make the ultimate decision on Leonard's fare.
The jury will hear from more witnesses Thursday, Oct. 9, and we expect a recommendation at that time as well.