The attorney for Leo Laurent said his wife’s death was an accident. The prosecution said Brandi Hawkins Laurent was murdered and buried in a shallow grave.
And with that, the murder trial of Leo Lucas Laurent began Monday at the Forrest County Courthouse in Hattiesburg, where it was moved because of media coverage on the Gulf Coast.
Laurent, 33, is accused of killing his wife at the couple’s rural Hancock County home on Aug. 3, 2007.
Her body was discovered 100 days later in a shallow grave about a half-mile from the couple’s home.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Fisher began opening statements by saying her husband, Leo Laurent, was the last person to see her alive.
“A search for Brandi would take months,” Fisher said.
“At every turn the investigation was thwarted, and it is because of that man sitting right there,” Fisher said pointing at the defendant.
Laurent’s attorney, Brian Alexander, conceded that Leo Laurent was present when his wife was killed, but said her death was an accident.
Alexander painted a picture of a domestic argument gone wrong, and a struggle for a gun which ended tragically.
“The state’s evidence will show you that they don’t know what they think they know,” Alexander told the jury.
Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy James Alphonso testified that he took a missing person’s report on Aug. 5, 2007 from Leo Laurent.
He told deputies his wife had left in the middle of the evening, wearing flip-flops, tan shorts and a green shirt.
Sheriff’s Investigator Matthew Carver said a post made on the social network My Space from Brandi Laurent profile was made after she was reported missing.
The post said that she had run off to Missouri with another man.
Carver said Laurent had denied having his wife’s password.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Investigator Joel Wallace testified that during the next three months, Leo Laurent led law enforcement into many dead ends.
“Over and over again, we were checking out other people that Mr.Laurent had pointed out to us,” Wallace said. “Things were not adding up.”