Laurent found guilty of murder - - The News for South Mississippi

Laurent found guilty of murder


 By Al Showers – bio | email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - It took a Hattiesburg jury less than an hour and a half to find a Hancock County man accused of murder guilty.

Leo Laurent was on trial for the August 2007 death of his wife, Brandi.

Her body was discovered in the woods in a shallow grave not far from the couple's home a few months after she was reported missing.

Leo Lucas Laurent Junior showed no emotion while his guilty verdict was read, but hung his head down as he was lead out of the courtroom and back to jail.

Anita Stroud, Brandi's mother, said, "I feel like getting on my knees and shouting glory hallelujah and thanking my Lord. I feel relieved that this is over and justice has been done for my daughter, my precious beautiful baby."

It's been 3 years since Anita Stroud's daughter, Brandi, was murdered. Defense attorney's argued her death was the result of an unfortunate shooting accident after the couple struggled over a gun.

But testimony from the forensic pathologist who performed two autopsies on Brandi's remains said he found no evidence of a gun-shot.

Dr. Paul McGarry also testified that Brandi was strangled to death.

"Dr. McGarry said that he saw no evidence of a gun shot wound but he also said that her lower torso was gone," Stroud said. "He said the only thing left was her skull and her upper torso. That her lower torso was gone and I think that's where the bullet went through."

Laurent's attorney's were banking on the conflicting theory of the cause of death would be enough to cast a shadow of doubt in the jury's minds.

Defense Attorney Brian Alexander said, "There was so much inconsistency in the state's case. I don't think they showed beyond a reasonable doubt, I don't. I'm not saying the system failed or anything like that. I think the jury decided what they decided. We did the very best we could with what we had to work with. I firmly believe that."

Prosecuting attorney's said it was the evidence that convicted Laurent.

"He actually did strangle her and that's been our theory throughout," said Asst. District Attorney Chris Schmidt. "We used the defendants continuous lies and fabrications to show that he did have intent to kill and ultimately the jury believed the state's proof."

The trial was held in Hattiesburg and not Hancock County because of pre-trial publicity.

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