ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The Walmart customer accused of shooting and killing a teen diaper thief outside the store on Clarcona-Ocoee road last year has been busy writing letters to the judge, claiming he’s receiving death threats from a gang.
Lonnie Leonard also said in the letters that he wants to pursue a stand your ground defense, against his attorney's advice.
He’s asking the judge for a hearing to try to get a new attorney.
“The first thing I glean from looking at his letter is he's desperate,” said WFTV legal analyst Belvin Perry.
Leonard is accused of shooting and killing teenager Arthur Adams in a Walmart parking lot as the teen tried to steal diapers.
Leonard filed a motion in the case, calling his attorney incompetent.
In a separate letter, he told the judge he, “Instructed counsel to file a stand my ground defense and the attorney said no.”
“In order to do that, the attorney must have a good faith basis to believe the stand your ground defense is applicable in this case,” Perry said.
Leonard told investigators he thought the teenager had a gun.
Perry said he does not believe stand your ground could work in this case, and it doesn’t help that Leonard is already on his second attorney.
Leonard said in the letter his attorney wants him to take a plea deal of four years, but wrote, “I don’t want to do that.”
Leonard wants an attorney who will take his case to trial, but he's charged with manslaughter with a firearm, which carries up to 30 years in prison.
Perry said believes if a 4-year deal really is on the table, Leonard would be better off taking it.
Perry said when he was a judge would start with 10 to 15 year plea deals in cases where someone died.
Cox Media Group