Trial begins for man charged in Auburn slayings

This undated photo provided by the Auburn Police Division shows Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., the suspect wanted for fatally shooting three people, including two former Auburn University football players, and wounding another three people during a party at an apartment complex near the school, Sunday, June 10, 2012, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said that current football player Eric Mack was among those wounded and was being treated at a hospital. The two slain former players were identified as Edward Christian and Ladarious Phillips. The other person killed was identified as Demario Pitts. (AP Photo/Auburn Police Division)

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) – An Alabama jury is scheduled to hear opening statements in the capital murder trial of a man accused of fatally shooting two former Auburn University football players.

A judge told a panel of 12 jurors and four alternates to return to court Friday afternoon for the trial of 24-year-old Desmonte Leonard.

Leonard is charged with killing former Auburn players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips at a pool party in Auburn in June 2012. DeMario Pitts of Opelika also was slain, and three people were wounded.

Testimony in past hearings indicated Leonard was hit with a bottle before the shooting began, and the defense claims he fired in self-defense.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the shootings.

Leonard was captured after an intense three-day manhunt that followed the killings.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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