Attorney calls Auburn shooting suspect's surrender "stressful" - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Attorney calls Auburn shooting suspect's surrender "stressful"

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PHENIX CITY - AL -

The man suspected in the Auburn shooting will make his first court appearance in Lee County Thursday morning. Desmonte Leonard is charged with three counts of capital murder and two counts of second degree assault. He turned himself in Tuesday night with the help of Montgomery attorney Susan James.

James says she doesn't have all the details about Saturday's shooting and the following days.

She was actually trying another case in Phenix City when she got the text that the suspected Auburn shooter wanted to talk to her. That call for help put her in touch with Leonard's family.

"It was getting completely out of control and she'd rather have him in jail than dead," said James of his mother wanting to get him to safety.

Nine agencies had been on Leonard's tail since Saturday. They even tore apart a house where he was thought to be hiding.

James says he was fifty miles away.

"I think he would've turned himself in earlier. He just didn't have a solution to make it safe," she said.

James facilitated a safe surrender at the federal courthouse in Montgomery. Her stipulations were that he must be held in the Montgomery County Jail and media was not to be present for the surrender.

But James had to go pick him up herself.

"That was fairly stressful because he was on every billboard around the area," she said.

She described Leonard as calm but wouldn't comment on what took place at University Heights.

"I don't want to give away anything about what his defense might be. I think it rang clear he viewed it as a very tragic event," she said.

James also says it's an event that scared Leonard.

"In this country we have this process because if you took a vote of the public, we might not have made it to the front of the courthouse," she said.

James is using the night to decide if she'll be the one standing by Leonard's side in Lee County Thursday morning.