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Capital murder charge in ex-Auburn players killing

- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

OPELIKA, ALA. (AP) - A 22-year-old man has been indicted on capital murder charges in the killing of two former Auburn University football players and a third person at a pool party.

Court filings posted Tuesday also say a grand jury indicted Desmonte Leonard on one count of first-degree assault, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of second-degree assault. No trial date has been set.

Leonard is accused of opening fire with a .40-caliber pistol, killing the three and wounding three others at the party near the Auburn campus on June 9.

Former Auburn football players Edward Christian, who had quit the team because of a lingering back injury, and Ladarious Phillips were killed along with DeMario Pitts of Opelika. Wounded were current Auburn player Eric Mack and two Roanoke men, Xavier Moss and John Robertson.

Phillips was transferring to Jacksonville State. Mack did not play in Auburn's season opening loss to Clemson last Saturday.

The case was sent to the grand jury after a police detective testified that a key witness identified Leonard as opening fire after a fight broke out among several young men.

Auburn Police Detective Jude Hackett had said at the preliminary hearing that Leonard and Auburn football player DeAngelo Benton got into an argument in the complex's clubhouse, apparently over two people thinking the other person was trying to stare them down. Then some Auburn athletes and friends took Benton outside. Police said Leonard came outside and a fight started among several young men and then the shooting started.

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