NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana prosecutor said Thursday that he will seek the death penalty against a man accused of using a hammer to bludgeon to death a woman and three children in a New Orleans suburb.
A grand jury has indicted Terrance Leonard on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. said in a news release.
“After consulting with my staff and receiving input from the victims’ families, I have decided that my office will seek the death penalty,” Connick said.
Leonard is accused of killing 32-year-old Kristina Riley, her 14-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and 9-year-old niece on March 6 in Terrytown. He’s also accused of attacking a 12-year-old daughter of Riley’s who survived.
Authorities at the time said the children were attacked in bed as they slept and their mother was out. Leonard, who lived at the apartment, told investigators he waited for Riley to come home and then killed her at around 2 a.m., authorities said.
Leonard confessed and told authorities where he hid the hammer used in the crime, authorities said.
He also faces an obstruction of justice charge, the district attorney said Thursday.
At the time of the killing, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said he didn’t believe there was a motive in the crime. He said Leonard told investigators he was under the influence of crack cocaine when the attacks occurred. But the sheriff cast doubt on that as a factor: “There’s a lot of people under the influence of narcotics and this is not a normal situation.”
Leonard is represented by the public defender’s office, which declined to comment.