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Penalty phase begins for ringleader of 'ninja' robbers (remember this?)
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Penalty phase begins for ringleader of 'ninja' robbers (remember this?) - October 29, 2010, 08:39 AM

I remember this story a while ago. All the speculations about who did it.
This was the wrong kind of people to kill (not saying other should be killed). They adopted kids that would normaly just end up in the system for life. He took his money and did good with it.

The link have a video....


Penalty phase begins for ringleader of 'ninja' robbers - CNN.com

Penalty phase begins for ringleader of 'ninja' robbers

Pensacola, Florida (CNN) -- The penalty phase begins Friday for a man convicted of leading a team of masked men dressed as ninjas to ambush a family in a Florida home.
Leonard Gonzalez Jr. was convicted Thursday for the murder plot. The penalty phase starting at 10 a.m. ET will determine whether he will get the death penalty.
An Escambia County, Florida, jury determined that Gonzalez fatally shot Byrd and Melanie Billings in the couple's master bedroom as one of their nine special-needs children looked on.
He was also found guilty of armed home-invasion robbery.
During the trial, Gonzalez frequently conversed with his attorneys, shook his head and smirked. He told Judge Nickolas Geeker that he didn't need to call any witnesses or testify on his own behalf because "the evidence speaks for itself."
And after the jury came out to ask a question during its four hours of deliberations, he said, "I've already been tried and convicted by the media."
But Gonzalez was stoic just before the verdict came in. He bowed his head after the clerk announced he was guilty of each murder count and appeared to wipe his eyes while the jury was being polled.




Video: Gonzalez: I'll take heat to save family




Video: Suspect outs 'Ninja' murder ring-leader

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Meanwhile, the Billings family cried in the courtroom, with Byrd's and Melanie's daughter Ashley Markham hugging prosecutors. Gonzalez nodded to the Billings family as he'd done earlier Thursday after he was fingerprinted and led away.
The jury of 11 women and one man deliberated for four hours before reaching the verdict. In that time, they requested to see a 14-minute surveillance video, culled from 16 cameras around the Billings house that were set up around the house to watch the nine special-needs children that the couple had adopted and were in the house at the time of the murder.
One video showed a masked man -- whom Frederick Thornton, a member of the group, identified as Gonzalez -- shooting Byrd Billings once in each leg. Another video showed a scene from a girl's bedroom as a red van packed with people arrives outside the house. The girl gets up from bed as the masked men enter the house, then hides under the covers pretending to sleep after hearing the commotion nearby. The van was owned by Gonzalez.
A camera was not in the master bedroom. But Thornton said that Gonzalez led the Billings' couple into the room. And expert witnesses showed how Gonzalez shot Byrd Billings once in the head and twice more as he lay face down on the floor, and then shot Melanie Billings through the head and chest.
During closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney John Molchan painted an involved picture depicting Gonzalez as the ringleader who hatched the plan, formed the team, outfitted six other men with guns and clothes, then led them as they barged into the Billings' large home in Beulah, Florida.


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