Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inmate Found Hanged At Sheriff’s Substation

Inmate Found Hanged At Sheriff’s Substation
Dec. 20, 2010

JACKSON COUNTY -- A man who ran from gunfire after breaking into a woman’s home had been in a holding cell about 15 minutes to 20 minutes before he was found dead, hanging by his shoe lace from a toilet and sink fixture, Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

The death Sunday night of Brian Anthony Leonardi, 28, at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department’s substation in St. Martin was ruled a suicide following an autopsy, which showed no other injuries, Byrd said Monday.

The sheriff said it’s the first suicide at the substation since it opened in 1974 on Mississippi 609 just north of Ocean Springs.

“If he had already made it to the Adult Detention Center, it wouldn’t have happened,” Byrd said. “He would have been wearing flip-flops. Detectives hadn’t even interviewed him yet.”

“It’s tragic. But this was the third time he was accused of kicking in a door to steal things.”

Leonardi had been free on bond since his arrest Nov. 2 on two counts of burglarizing a dwelling. Deputies were investigating a burglary at a Glenn Drive home when they got a call about a burglary in progress at a home on Cook Road.

At the time, Byrd said deputies found Leonardi in the house, reeking of alcohol. His vehicle was parked in the driveway with its engine running, and his 4-year-old son unrestrained in the back seat.

This time, Byrd said, a woman was home and locked herself in the bathroom and called for help.

The break-in was in the 16000 block of Tower Bridge Road.

The woman, in her 20s, called her mother, who called 911. The woman then called her grandfather, who lives next door.

The grandfather found Leonardi in the kitchen, going through Christmas gifts, Byrd said.

“He ordered the suspect to put them down and lay down,” Byrd said, “but he refused.”

The grandfather chased him out with a pistol and fired three shots at the fleeing vehicle. None of the bullets struck the vehicle, Byrd said, but the grandfather gave deputies the tag number.

Authorities learned Leonardi had borrowed the vehicle from his brother around 3 p.m. Sunday. The brother cooperated with investigators, Byrd said.

D’Iberville police arrested Leonardi at a mobile home park at 4457 Popp’s Ferry Road. Byrd said detectives found the stolen Christmas gifts in a neighbor’s garbage can.

Deputies placed Leonardi in a holding cell that has no bars. Byrd described it as a small room with a door, a bunk and a toilet and sink fixture.

The woman and her grandfather had identified Leonardi as the burglar, Byrd said, and investigators were about to interview Leonardi before he was sent to the county jail.

“We’ve been told he was talking to somebody last week about taking his own life,” Byrd said, “but we had no indication he would do that.”

According to different estimates, Leonardi was alone about 15 minutes, but no longer than 25 minutes. Detectives found him dead.

The sheriff said Leonardi had taken off a shoe lace, tied it around his neck and attached it to the toilet and sink fixture, and sat down. Deputies and Acadian ambulance personnel tried to revive him.

Byrd said he called for an independent probe by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations.

“We’ve got nothing to hide,” Byrd said.

MBI spokesman Jon Kalahar confirmed state agents are investigating the incident.

Byrd said the hanging is the agency’s first since 2002, when two different inmate deaths were ruled a suicide.

Capital murder suspect Ngan Tran, 27, hanged himself from a light fixture in his jail cell in April 2002. Murder suspect Gene Parnell, 36, was found hanging by torn strips of blankets in a jail holding cell in August 2002.

More Civil Rights Movement On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. :

No comments: