Laurent guilty verdict appeal denied

Published 3:31 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

An appeal by Leo Lucas Laurent, who was found guilty of the 2007 murder of his wife, Brandi Laurent, has been denied by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

According to documents filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court, Laurent was sentenced to life in prison following his guilty verdict. He had filed for an appeal for three reasons, first he believed the jury did not receive a self defense instruction, second he was entitled to a directed verdict of acquittal under the Weathersby rule because he was the only witness and finally because the Hancock County Circuit Court denied his motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court did not agree with his arguments and upheld the jury’s decision.

Laurent was cast into the limelight after he called the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department to report his wife had left home after the two engaged in an argument in August of 2007. He said she was possibly hanging out with a drug dealer.

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His story about his wife’s disappearance would change two more times during follow-up questioning by investigators.

One variation would include a description of her accidental shooting death while the couple fought over a gun, and the second variation would describe her death as being caused by a drug overdose. He told investigators that after her overdose death he overreacted, which prevented him from calling authorities, the court document states.

Brandi Laurent’s remains were found in a shallow grave three months later, about a mile from the Laurent home. Court documents state an autopsy determined her cause of death to be “asphyxia due to compressive injuries to the neck and chest.”

Laurent’s appeal was denied on a number of grounds, the court document states. Those reasons included the fact that Laurent’s testimony about Brandi Laurent’s death did not meet the findings of the forensic pathologist, the fact he did not argue the Weathersby rule during trial and the material evidence did not support his account of her death, and finally that the weight of the evidence in the case did not disturb the jury’s verdict.

The Mississippi Supreme Court’s decision was to affirm his conviction and sentence to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.