Leo Laurent Murder Case Grand Jury Bound - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Leo Laurent Murder Case Grand Jury Bound

The former youth soccer coach accused of killing his wife was back in court in Hancock County on Friday for a preliminary hearing on a murder charge.

Leo Laurent was brought through the back door of justice court wearing chains and cuffs, jail clothes and a bullet proof vest.

He's accused of killing his wife, 29-year-old Brandy Hawkins Laurent, whose body was found in a shallow grave last November, not far from the couple's home in the Fenton community.

Investigator Andre Fizer testified that Laurent told some seven different versions of what happened the night his wife died. Fizer says the autopsy found Brandi Laurent was strangled and the case will show her husband was the killer.

But one version of Laurent's alibi raises questions about a gunshot. He claims the two argued in their trailer home, they tussled over a handgun and she was accidentally shot. He admits to panicking, then burying her body in a nearby woods.

Investigators say there were traces of blood found at the trailer, along with a bullet hole through an inside wall.

That gunshot could well be the basis for Leo Laurent's defense.

"I think it's interesting that they don't believe his statement that she somehow died by gunshot, but they still used it to implicate him and sign an affidavit for her strangulation. So, there's a bunch of inconsistencies they have," said Laurent's court appointed attorney, Brian Alexander.

The sheriff says the case for the prosecution is solid.

"I'm just glad he did feel some remorse to come and start talking about the case. You know I'm glad the case is where it's at today. It's going to the grand jury. We feel very confident from there. We're going to put him in jail for a long, long time for murder," said Sheriff Steve Garber.

"It was an up and down case. And a lot of it was in the media and a lot of other stuff on the Internet and all. Really, it hurt the case somewhat because we had to go through all this evidence. Everything that come in, we had to weed through it," said Garber.

Brandi Laurent's mother was among the victim's friends and family in court Friday. An emotional Anita Moody had no comment about the testimony.

Leo Laurent is being held in the Pearl River County jail. His attorney asked that the defendant's one million dollar bond be lowered to a more reasonable $100,000. Judge Ricky Adam denied that request.

"Look, a death is a death. And that's an important thing. But a million dollars? This is not O.J. Simpson," said defense attorney Alexander.

He says his client "absolutely" maintains his innocence to the murder charge.

In making the motion for the lower bond, Alexander said Laurent was not a flight risk. He also told the court the defendant is being "picked on" in the Pearl River County jail.

By Steve Phillips

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