James also said Leonard’s criminal record is much cleaner than many people she represents.
The first step in Leonard’s case will be to request a preliminary hearing, but a plea in the case will not come until an indictment is issued, which James said is “probably a ways down the road.”
Leonard is a suspect for the shooting at University Heights apartment complex in Auburn Saturday night involving the death of two former Auburn football players and one Auburn resident. James said although the case is receiving national attention from the press, it is not just about football.
“This case really isn’t about football,” James said. “This case surely has some implications for Auburn University, but if you take football and football players out of the equation, and certainly I’m sympathetic to the victims so don’t misunderstand, but when you take football out of the equation this is a tragic incident where people were shot and lost their lives and that’s the way we’re approaching it...”
James said a self-defense plea was not out of the question.
“Anything is possible,” James said. “Fortunately this case should be the prime example to the world that our criminal justice system is a good system, because if you took action on a person simply because somebody said something and they think it happened a certain way, we should have pulled up, when we pulled up to the federal courthouse to take him in, and left him out on the street for someone to deal with him however they wanted to. Fortunately for him and every other criminal defendant in this country, that doesn’t happen and he has a right to have his day in court.”
James did not reveal the strategy she plans to use with the case.
“We don’t show out hand this early, there’s nothing to be gained by that,” James said. “It would be irresponsible for us to come forward and tell you now something about the facts of this case. I will continue to say there are two sides to the story.”
James mentioned that she had given “a lot of thought and prayer” on whether she would take the case, but later accepted with the help of lawyer Jeffery Duffey.
“When you take football out of it, it’s another tragic event,” James said. “We’re going to treat this case just as we treat every other criminal case and we’re going to give him the best possible representation that we possible can...”
There will likely be a request for a preliminary hearing tomorrow and it will then go on the court schedule.