Secrecy And Speed: Attorney Discusses Desmonte Leonard’s Surrender

On Tuesday evening, the man suspected of shooting six people in Auburn turned himself in to U.S. Marshals.  Desmonte Leonard contacted a lawyer first, though.

Wednesday, WHNT News 19 spoke with the attorney, Susan James.  We asked her how the events unfolded.

Desmonte Leonard (Photo: Montgomery County Jail)

James said members of Leonard’s family contacted her office for help in negotiating his surrender.  From the time she agreed to help, it was about two things: speed and secrecy.

“Time was of the essence,” James said. “The plan was to get him in as quickly as possible, and we were in a jury trial and our judge was accommodating. We kept it quiet, only to his ears.”    

Leonard was about 50 miles from Montgomery.  James won’t say where, but confirms she and her son went to Leonard after arranging the surrender.  Her son works for her.

Leonard’s safety was an important consideration, James said.  She wanted the surrender to go quietly with no media present.  She says Leonard seemed relieved.

“I don’t think he wanted to be on the run,” James said. “I think he just didn’t know how to effectively accomplish a safe surrender, because of all the media, and hype, and some of the things that were being said.”

On the ride from Leonard’s location back to Montgomery, James said there was conversation about how Tuesday night would unfold.

“We talked about his family,” James said.  “We talked about the facts of the case.  We talked about the process we could expect, and things like that.”

Leonard turned himself in to U.S. Marshals and the FBI in Montgomery.  Part of the negotiation was that Leonard not be held in the Lee County Jail.

Leonard is scheduled to be arraigned in Lee County on Thursday.  He is charged with three counts of capital murder and two counts of assault.  Six people were shot Saturday night.  Three died.

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