Leo Laurent to face charges in Hattiesburg court

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The key suspect in the murder of Brandi Hawkins Laurent will be tried in a Hattiesburg court now that a change of venue has been granted.

Hancock County Circuit Court documents state that on Nov. 3, change of venue was granted by Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Roger T. Clark. The ruling states that the decision was based on the fact that “Leo Laurent Jr. cannot receive a fair and impartial trail in Hancock County where this offense is charged.”

The trial will take place on Jan. 25, 2010 in Hattiesburg.

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Leo Laurent is charged with the murder of Brandi Laurent in 2007. Laurent initially called Hancock County Sheriff’s Department officials in August of 2007 to report that his wife was missing after the couple engaged in an argument.

In November of 2007, her body was found in a shallow grave about a mile from the Laurents’ home by a Equine Search Team. Her cause of death was ruled to be asphyxiation or strangulation. A gun is also believed to be involved in her death. Due to the extent of decay of Brandi Laurent’s remains, tattoos and dental records were used to identify her. She was 29 years-old. Leo Laurent was later charged with her death.

In January of 2007 Leo Laurent was arrested on a separate embezzlement charge while he was employed at the Picayune CVS pharmacy. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation for that charge.

In December of 2007 Leo Laurent also is reported to have falsely claimed he was shot at by two black men in a vehicle. He later pleaded guilty to lying about the incident. He was ordered to pay about $5,605 in fines and reimbursement.