Appeals Court upholds Laurent conviction

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Leo Lucas Laurent Jr’s conviction in one of the Gulf Coast’s most high-profile murder cases has been upheld by the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

The investigation into the death of Brandi Laurent lasted almost three years and ended in 2010 with the conviction of her husband, Leo Laurent, a former youth soccer coach. He is serving a life sentence.

The couple was living in a FEMA trailer near Kiln when Brandi Laurent disappeared on Aug. 3, 2007. Leo Laurent contacted the media the next day and claimed his wife had been abducted by drug dealers.

The 29-year-old mother of two reportedly left on foot, without her car, identification, keys, cell phone or cash. Leo Laurent told reporters he had been unsuccessfully searching for his wife.

Three months later, her remains were found in a shallow grave in a field about a mile from their home. Her death was ruled homicide by suffocation.

Leo Laurent was arrested on Jan. 9, 2008, and charged with murder. He had told deputies she left their home after the two argued. He also said she had been using drugs for several days.

He was convicted on Jan. 30, 2010 in Forrest County, where the trial was moved because of pretrial news coverage.

At trial, defense attorneys called Laurent’s wife’s death an accident.

The Appeals Court dismissed Laurent’s claims that prosecutors didn’t prove Laurent’s guilt and that jurors were not allowed to consider his claim of self-defense.