October 28, 2010

Both sides rest in Gonzalez murder trial

Posted: 01:07 PM ET

Pensacola, FL - The prosecution has wrapped up its case and the defense called no witnesses before resting today in the trial of Leonard Gonzales, Jr.  Gonzalez is accused of the 2009 murders of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a Florida couple known for adopting special needs kids.

After the defense told the Court it would not put forth a case, the judge addressed the defendant.  Gonzalez told the judge "the evidence speaks for itself."

Two men involved in the home invasion testified for the prosecution that Gonzalez was the ringleader and trigger man who shot the Billings.

If he’s convicted, Gonzalez Jr. faces the death penalty.

Stay with In Session for LIVE coverage of Florida v. Gonzalez Jr. and don't forget is also streaming the trial. Click on and select Leonard Gonzalez trial.

Filed under: Breaking News • Death penalty • Trial Updates • Trials

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Sharon Norris   October 28th, 2010 9:16 am ET

Gonzalez appears to suffer from 'little man syndrome'. I base this on all those who have said he had a big mouth bragging about false accomplishments he intended to achieve and because he bragged on himself all the time. I believe the reason no defense was presented in his case is because he chose none. He knows he is guilty and the only ones who could testify for him, had nothing beneficial to offer in his defense. It will be interested to see if his golden mouth gets him by in prison. I understand it is difficult for 'pretty little men' in prison. He deserves the death penalty and nothing less.

Patricia Gaston   October 28th, 2010 1:19 pm ET

This man is short, probably has small man complex. However, with a group of men of his same mentality he feels he has to act like a big man. No doubt he went there just to rob but when no money was found he had to appear to be a big man and shoot the couple. The mob mentality. What a shame.

Cynthia Taylor   October 28th, 2010 1:30 pm ET

Why in death penalty cases, the defendant is found guilty the court will give a date the death sentence will be given, and some death row inmates are in jail for years? Thank you

don peffly   October 28th, 2010 1:31 pm ET

The fact that Gonzalez was a karate instructor says something about the "Ninja" style guess who was dressed in those ninja outfits.

Kellye Lee   October 28th, 2010 1:51 pm ET

Gonzalez and his attorney Randy Etheridge seem pretty friendly. I live in Pensacola and I seem to recall Etheridge having some legal issues awhile back (maybe a DUI, drugs) so I am wondering if they knew each other before. The coverage in Pensacola has been interesting...

Saundra Miller   October 28th, 2010 2:14 pm ET

I have watched this from the beginning and have observed the defense lawyer sitting next to the defendant seeming to be amused by the witnesses testimony and is laughing and talking to the defendant throughout the whole trial. Sometimes a smirky grin and other times with outright laughs. They are, in my opinion, taking this too lightly. I agree with others that have commented on the little man syndrome. I have known people like this and they think they have to act tough to make up for their size.

Alan Bryson   October 28th, 2010 2:18 pm ET

In Session needs to have cameras ready to record his sentence being
carried out.. I would bet my farm that he cries like a baby and has to be lifted up onto the table.. At least then he will get his 15 minutes of shame/fame, as a wantabe, nobody, punk, little man..
God loves those he killed, and the devil will love to burn him forever..

Joyce Huffman   October 28th, 2010 3:59 pm ET

I was wondering the same thing Kellye. I don't think I have ever seen a defendant and Defense attys laughing and acting like this was a party going on instead of a possible death penalty.I doubt it will take the jury too long to put this "puzzle" together.

Dana Schirm   October 28th, 2010 4:47 pm ET

Has anyone noticed in the video at Walmart when Gonzalez had his child with him, and other thugs, standing to the left with a cart, it sure looks like his wife, Tabitha? Could she have known more than we think?

Vickie Welborn   October 28th, 2010 5:52 pm ET

Gonzalez and his attorney seem to be having a party. He needs to wipe that smurk off of his face, because there is absolutely no happiness for caring parents who are killed like the Billings were. I would be ashamed as a defense attorney if I did not present any reasonable doubt or give any kind of evidence that my client was not guilty. Isnt that how our justice systems works? It appears that Gonzalez has nothing to say because he is guilty! He knows it, his defense knows it and all of us do too. Now the only thing left is to give him the most punishable act of all: the death penalty!!!

donald miller   October 28th, 2010 5:56 pm ET

It really makes me sick to see young punks like gonzo try an be big man on campus but all he did was take the lives of saints. All those poor kids are now without someone to take care of them and show them what real love is all about.
Aas bad as I hate to say it , He deserves the death sentence. I am against it, but I think death really applies here. That is what I would want if the same thing had happened to my mom and dad.

emma smart   October 28th, 2010 6:52 pm ET

i cannot believe that the defendant was smiling and at some points during the trial joking and laughing with his attorneys. this shows you that he has no remorse or regard for the 2 people's lives he took that day. he is so cocky and confident in himself that he thinks he will get away with murder. he is nothing but a coward! even people who he claimed were friends of his testified against him. he is going down and he deserves the death penalty for his crimes.

Mike   October 28th, 2010 7:27 pm ET

Was that a paid defense attorney or a public one?

chris   October 28th, 2010 7:30 pm ET

Why have'nt they taken height measurements of all the men that where there ,and compare the height of the man who shot fingerprints on the how will the jury decide on this..are they any fibers or hair samples ,footprints of the black boots he wore..was the wooden floor,tile floor dusted for an impression of the bottom of his boots...

dirty h   October 28th, 2010 7:43 pm ET

I am not a death penalty supporter but I also like to follow the law. So, as long as it is on the books and is being carried out, Leonard Patrick Gonsalez is one of the more likelyer evil doers that will get it. The trial was a joke and the defense must be postureing for an insufficant defense appeal.

clmonroe   October 28th, 2010 9:26 pm ET

God is so GREAT !!! and "NO" Etheridge nor Jr. was smiling while the verict of """GUILTY""" was being read !!!! God Bless this family and the children !!!

dano   October 28th, 2010 9:39 pm ET

Why do these so called robberies, home invasions, turn out to be double and triple murders? Glad 3 more slime balls are off the streets of Pensacola.

jennifer   October 29th, 2010 12:41 pm ET

It appears the mother has mental issues as well. Watching her smile on the stand in the court is disgusting. Probably why her son is a cold-blooded killer. She also didn't look like she just had a stroke to me so perhaps she purgered herself?

Marcia H. Ribera   October 29th, 2010 3:16 pm ET

To the guy who asked if this defense atty was paid, PLEASE!!!! The taxpayers paid for the trial and will be supporting his ex-wives and all the kids he fathered for the next 20 years. I hope he gets LIFE, so he can be put in general population and suffer with his own kind, not DEATH, like Scott Petersen in Cal., who has a private cell and e-mails and letters from his female following. What a system! Marcia

MJB   October 29th, 2010 4:21 pm ET

Being such a serious crime in this case, whyis the defendant and his lawyers having a good time. Gonzo smiling, laughing and nodding even to the Billings family is just aggrivating for all watching. Hopefully the jury catches all that. Even his lawyer laughing and surly this is not suppose to be a distressing move. Death is the only answer here. If the jury finds a life verdict someone must think hes cute or doesn't believe in the death penality. Gonzo meets all the aggrivating circumstances one can come up with. Death here !

Trish   October 29th, 2010 5:35 pm ET

As bad as her smiling on the stand, watching his mother smiling in the gallery was even more disturbing. I couldn't believe her proud-mommy demeanor while talking about a man just found guilty of horrific crimes and facing a death sentence. It certainly didn't help. She's so frighteningly out-of-touch with the reality of what her son has done, not only in this case, but also in previous years. She seems to have been only interested in protecting and praising her son, and not raising him to be a responsible member of society. While psychiatric drugs may not be the ideal treatment for some, many, or all mentally and/or behaviorially disturbed kids, having an adult sit next to him in class for a year and a year of home school by his mom who was a college student in special ed wasn't the only alternative. Counseling, anger management or even psychiatric care can be done without drugs.

kim   October 29th, 2010 9:09 pm ET

I have kept up with this Gonzalez Jr. trial and have thought that he and his lawyers were very confident in being found not guilty . Everyone has picked up that he is Guilty and I think he has definetly gotten what he deserved. Even though the death penailty will be over with quick he will suffer in Hell with the devil for his crimes. GOD be with the children that are without the Billings now.

Daniel Alexander   October 31st, 2010 6:26 pm ET

What about his kids not to mention his skirt!

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