OPELIKA - On a hot June morning, five days after three young men were gunned down at an Auburn apartment party, Desmonte Leonard faced Lee County District Judge Russell Bush for the first time.
Desmonte Leonard's Lee County Jail mugshot, taken Thursday
After being transported from the Montgomery County Jail to the Lee County Justice Center, Leonard entered the courtroom in handcuffs and shackles. Wearing a black shirt and dark jeans, he was surrounded by heavy security.
Bush appointed Montgomery lawyer Susan James and her firm to represent Leonard. He was accompanied by Denise Simmons, a lawyer in James' firm, on Thursday.
The law requires a hearing be held within 72 hours of an arrest. Leonard turned himself in to U.S. Marshals in Montgomery on Tuesday night. He faces three charges of capital murder and two counts of first degree assault. Another assault count is expected.
Former Auburn football players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and Auburn resident Demario Pitts died as a result of gunshot wounds after a pool party turned violent Saturday night. Auburn offensive guard Eric Mack was shot in the hip but is back in school after spending one night a East Alabama Medical Center. He is expected to recover fully.
Another victim, John Robertson, remains hospitalized at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham. Xavier Martin was treated and released Saturday at EAMC.
In his brief appearance Thursday morning, Leonard signed papers indicating he understood the charges against him. He was booked into the Lee County Jail after his court appearance.
Simmons said she met Leonard for the first time Thursday morning.
"He's fine under the circumstances," Simmons said. "He's holding up well. I just met him this morning, so I haven't had the opportunity to visit with him. He's a young man that is in a situation right now. That's about all I can comment on right now."