An Ohio man who shot and killed his girlfriend pleaded guilty while a courtroom brawl broke out in Cincinnati on Monday.
Leonard Lanier, 28, of Oakley, accepted a guilty plea to the reduced charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. He admitted to fatally shooting Strawberry Edwards, 21, the mother of his son, in the head with a .45-caliber handgun on Feb. 21, 2013, at her apartment.
As Lanier was preparing to plead guilty, his brother, Lucian Lanier, and the victim’s brother, Jason Edwards, started to fight, WKRC reports.
Several deputies suffered minor injuries while trying to break up the brawl. A prosecutor’s glasses and a sheriff deputy’s finger were broken.
“[Lanier] launched past me to attack the [victim’s] family member,” said Assistant Prosecutor Flanagan, according to Cincinnati.com. “He just ran past me and had just launched himself.”
Both men were immediately brought before the judge who found them to be in contempt of court. Lucien Lanier was sentenced to 30 days in jail, while Jason Edwards got five. They were both charged with assaulting a police officer.
Leonard Lanier was originally charged with murder and other charges that could have resulted in life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Strawberry Edwards was three months pregnant at the time of the murder, WCPO reported. Her brother, Ruebenn Knox, said Lanier had been trying to get through Edwards’ back door when they began to fight.
“I guess it got heated and it got physical,” he said, “and I guess, I don't know, through anger, jealousy, whatever it was, I guess he pulled a gun and shot her.”