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Convicted killer arrested a mile from college stabbing


Police arrested a former killer this week just over a mile from the scene of an unsolved quadruple stabbing that killed four University of Idaho students after they were attacked in their early sleep on a Saturday in November.

James Leonard, 39, of Moscow, Idaho, allegedly beat his wife and daughter late Tuesday night and slashed himself with a knife, court documents show. Police said his arrest on Wednesday was unrelated to the Nov. 13 home invasion killings nearby.

He had previously pleaded guilty to a fatal shooting in 2007, but had barely served time in prison, according to court documents.

“Dispatch informed that an intoxicated husband struck his wife in the head and struck his daughter,” according to a criminal complaint on the latest charges obtained by Fox News Digital.

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Police arrived at their Palouse River Drive home and found Leonard’s wife with blood on her nose and mouth, according to court documents. Leonard had locked himself in a bedroom and when the police ordered him out they saw blood on his hands and face and a large cut on his forearm.

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An officer searched him and found two knives and a joint of marijuana, according to the complaint. His wife told officers he drank “half a bottle of gin” and became very drunk. He walked in after working on her truck and allegedly saw her on the phone and accused her of cheating on him. He allegedly yelled at her in front of her two children, aged 20 and 15, her daughter’s 21-year-old boyfriend and a one-year-old grandchild.

Then, according to the complaint, he went to his bedroom and started cutting himself.

When his wife went to see him, he allegedly attacked her with his fist and grabbed her throat. In the fight, the eldest daughter, her boyfriend and the one-year-old child went to a neighbor’s house. However, at one point Leonard also allegedly punched and kicked the 15-year-old, pulled her hair and threw her into a dresser. Police later found her hiding under a chair in another room with symptoms of a concussion.

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While his wife was on the phone with 911, Leonard allegedly slashed her arm, yelled that she had cut him and that he needed help. He was accused of harassing her in the house with a knife. Police found a trail of blood inside and asked the wife if she ever feared Leonard would attack her with the knife, according to the affidavit. She told them she didn’t know what he would do.

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The arrest comes amid an investigation into the death of 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, about 2km downhill from the next junction. Police found the four dead in a house a few meters from campus around noon on November 13.

Bizarrely, Leonard’s defense attorney is also the county coroner who said the four students were victims of stabbing and their injuries were likely inflicted while they slept.

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Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt was elected in 2006, shortly before the Leonard murder case, and is both a lawyer and a nurse.

She declined to comment on the case Thursday.

On the morning of June 19, 2007, Leonard shot and killed Tyler Lee outside his home in Genesee, according to an affidavit obtained by Fox News Digital.

“I was the one who shot him,” Leonard told a deputy, according to the filing. He claimed it was in self-defense after the victim came to his house, punched him in the face, knocked him down and climbed on top of him during a fight.

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Leonard told police that Lee had previously threatened him with “bats, machetes and other things”, and said the man showed up at his house around 2:30 a.m.

Before stepping outside to meet Lee, Leonard pulled a handgun from a safe in his bedroom and told his wife to call the police if she heard gunshots, according to court documents.

READ THE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT:

He went out and met Lee, who accused him of sleeping with his girlfriend.

According to Leonard’s version of events, he denied the affair and Lee attacked him, threatening to slit his throat and hurt Leonard’s son.

Leonard had a .38 caliber revolver in his pocket, pulled it out and shot Lee. Moments later, witnesses reported hearing two more gunshots.

The first shot struck him in the heart and was determined to be the fatal shot by Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, the pathologist who performed the autopsy. He found that the second and third shots had been inflicted on his leg and face post-mortem. The toxicology report found mescaline and cannibinoids but no alcohol in Lee’s system.

Witnesses later told police that Leonard had backed up his truck before they arrived, a move they perceived as “spoiling the crime scene.” One alleged that Leonard asked him for a shovel in an attempt to hide the body.

Leonard in February 2009 entered into a plea deal, admitting manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of five to 15 years, according to court documents.

Moscow Police Department, Idaho.

In May 2009, a court suspended his sentence and sentenced him to 15 years probation. The conditions required him to avoid drugs and alcohol, hold a steady job, and obey the law, among other things.

Leonard’s defense attorney in the manslaughter case, Sunil Ramalingam, is now a judge and said his current position prevents him from discussing the proceedings with a reporter.

Leonard’s current charges include a battery of domestic violence with traumatic injury, aggravated assault, attempted strangulation and injury to a child.

Police say four University of Idaho students were killed in a rental house on King Road a short walk from campus between 3 and 4 a.m. on November 13. Two other housemates were on the ground floor and escaped injury, authorities said.

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Three victims lived there. Chapin, Kernolde’s boyfriend, was sleeping at home.

Chapin was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, which has a fraternity about 200 yards away. He majored in recreation, sports and tourism management, the University of Idaho said. He and Kernodle reportedly spent most of the evening at the Sigma Chi house before returning to her home around 1:45 a.m., investigators say.

Boxes containing belongings of Idaho victims are moved

The belongings of the victims of the University of Idaho quadruple homicide are removed from the home in Moscow, Idaho on Wednesday.

Both Kernodle and Mogen were part of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and were marketing majors. Goncalves, major of general studies, belonged to Alpha Phi. They had been seen at the Corner Club bar in Moscow and at a food truck earlier that evening.

Police said Wednesday they were looking for the occupant or occupants of a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra seen near the victims’ home at the time of the crime. Police are asking anyone who knows anything to come forward, even with minor details.

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“Your information, whether you think it’s important or not, could be the piece of the puzzle that will help investigators solve these murders,” police said in a statement.

Anyone with information is asked to call the information line at 208-883-7180 or email tipline@ci.moscow.id.us.

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