[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Whoa, what?! A convicted killer was arrested this week – just a little more than a mile away from the scene where the four University of Idaho students were murdered in their sleep last month.
According to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital, 39-year-old James Leonard was arrested on Wednesday for domestic violence battery with traumatic injury, aggravated assault, attempted strangulation, and injury to a child after allegedly beating his wife and her daughter and slashing himself with a knife. A criminal complaint stated:
“Dispatch advised an intoxicated husband punched his wife in the head and struck his daughter.”
The man’s wife told the authorities that James allegedly drank “half a bottle of gin” and had come inside from working on his truck when he saw her on the phone with someone. He accused her of cheating on him and began yelling at her in front of her 20-year-old and 15-year-old kids, her older daughter’s 21-year-old boyfriend, and a 1-year-old grandchild. Per the complaint, James then went into his room and began to cut himself.
When the wife checked up on him, he proceeded to hit her with his fist and grabbed her throat. In the middle of the attack, the older daughter, her boyfriend, and toddler went to a neighbor’s house. And at one point, James allegedly punched and kicked the 15-year-old daughter before pulling her hair and throwing her into a dresser.
While the wife contacted 911, James then cut his arm, screamed that she had cut him, and needed help. Law enforcement soon arrived at the home on Palouse River Drive, and they found his wife with blood on her nose and mouth while he was in a bedroom. When police demanded that he exit the room, James came out with blood all over his hands and face and a large cut on his forearm. An officer searched him, discovering he had two knives and a marijuana joint on him.
Police discovered a path of blood inside the residence and asked the wife if she was scared that Leonard would turn the knife on her, per the affidavit. She reportedly told them she wasn’t sure what he would do at the time. Law enforcement also ended up finding her hiding underneath a child in a different room with signs of a concussion. What a horrific and scary situation.
The arrest comes at an inneresting time as the ex-con lived about 1.3 miles from the home where Kaylee Goncalves, Madison Mogen, Xana Kernodle, and Ethan Chapin were found stabbed to death on November 13. Plus, he was previously pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a man named Tyler Lee outside of his house in Genesee, Idaho, back in 2007.
Per a filing obtained by Fox News Digital, he claimed it was self-defense after the victim came to his house to accuse him of sleeping with his girlfriend, punched him in the face, and climbed on top of him to continue the attack. He took a plea deal, confessing to involuntary manslaughter in exchange to a five to fifteen year prison sentence. However, in 2009, his prison sentence was suspended, and he was placed on 15 years of probation.
Naturally, these details made some people suspicious. And in a bizarre twist, the Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt, who ruled that the four students were stabbed to death in their sleep, is also James’ defense attorney! Yeah, you read that right. According to Fox News Digital, she was elected to office in 2006 before James’ murder case and is a lawyer and nurse.
But is the Moscow Police Department looking to see if James is connected to the University of Idaho murders? Nope. They said to the outlet that he is not a suspect at this time. Meanwhile, his wife insisted to Dailymail.com on Sunday that he “had nothing to do” with the killings:
“There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on, but my husband had nothing to do with what happened up there. People on the internet are trying to pin the murders on him. I had to get off that social media s**t.”
She also noted that he was home with her when the four victims were killed. At this time, MPD has not identified a suspect in these slayings – but they are looking for the occupant(s) of a white 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Elantra who may have important information about the crime. Anyone with information was asked to call 208-883-7180 or to email [email protected].