Laurent pleaded guilty to false info, bound to grand jury for murder

Published 11:48 pm Saturday, February 9, 2008

Leo Laurent was bound over to the grand jury for the murder of Brandi Laurent after the case was brought before the Hancock County Justice court for a preliminary hearing.

Friday Hancock County Investigator André Fizer presented the evidence he and the other investigators collected before Hancock Justice Court Judge Ricky Adams, who bound the case to a grand jury.

In 2007, Brandi Laurent reportedly had walked away from the couple’s home after the couple engaged in an argument on Aug. 3. Brandi Laurent’s body was not found until Nov. 10. by an Equine Search team.

The official cause of death for Brandi Laurent was strangulation/asphixiation, Fizer said. In one of the last of about seven statements Leo Laurent made to investigators, he said an altercation involving a gun was involved in her death.

Leo Laurent’s statements were made to Chief Investigator Kenny Hurt and Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber at the Pearl River County Jail on and after Jan. 6.

The remains of Brandi Laurent were found in a shallow grave off of Road 528 in Hancock County, near some power lines. The body was described as being badly decomposed and appeared as though animals attempted to feed on it, Fizer said. Animal tracks were found near the scene and the body was described as in and out of the dirt and partially skeletal.

“At the time there was not a whole lot of flesh left,” Fizer said.

Identification of the body was achieved through tattoos and dental records, Fizer said. Her body was described as, “gnawed and scattered by animal activity,” in a report read at the hearing.

Two of the last statements Leo Laurent had given indicated he and Brandi had engaged in a fight because she wanted to go out that night. In the first of those last statements Leo Laurent stated he left the room during the fight to get dishes from the bedroom and when he returned he saw blood coming from her mouth and nose. He described her as passed out on the floor, possibly due to drug use, so he attempted CPR. His last statement to the department involved a similar incident, with the exception that when he returned with dishes in-hand Brandi Laurent had a gun pointed at him; a fight for the gun ensued and the gun went off. Laurent stated that the bullet entered Brandi’s body under her right breast and exited through her back. In neither statement did Leo Laurent indicate he had called 911, Fizer said.

After Leo Laurent determined Brandi Laurent was dead he said in his statement that he got a trash can and loaded her body into it. He then packed up their baby into the car seat, loaded the trash can into the couple’s van and headed to Road 528. Leo Laurent found the area with the power lines, where the body was later found, and placed her in a hole in the ground he found.

With new information of a gunshot being involved investigators with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations Crime Unit rechecked the Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer the couple was living in at the time. They found evidence consistent with bullet penetration in the master bedroom wall. It appeared that the hole had been patched and blood was found on the walls, in the hallway and in the utility room.

Fizer said this statement’s information was relayed to the doctor who performed the autopsy. The doctor had indicated there were wounds on the front and rear of the ribcage that could be consistent with a bullet wound. While the official cause of death is listed as strangulation, Fizer did say that the gun shot is being investigated.

Defense attorney Bryan Alexander asked for a reduced bond, which Adams denied, leaving the bond at $1 million.

Garber expressed satisfaction with the proceedings on Friday and remorse for the children who have lost their mother.

“I was very pleased he didn’t reduce the bond,” Garber said.

Thursday, Laurent faced a separate charge in Waveland and pleaded guilty to false report of a crime, which involved a faked attempt at Laurent’s life. The incident occurred on Dec. 7, where Laurent called the Waveland police stating he had been shot at by two black men driving by in a car while he was walking along the beach. Laurent described the shot came from about 60 feet away, according to news stories in Gulf Coast papers. Investigation into the incident proved Laurent’s claims were false. Waveland Assistant Police Chief Mike Prendergast said enough evidence had been collected in the investigation to prove Laurent was guilty and had made the story up.

Prendergast said Laurent was brought before the Waveland Municipal Court on the charge of false report of a crime, to which he pleaded guilty. With Laurent’s guilty plea he was ordered to pay a $605 fine, and another $5,000 to reimburse the city for the investigation and man hours involved.

Laurent is also being held for the charge of embezzlement while he was employed at the Picayune CVS pharmacy.