July 15th, 2009
06:29 PM ET

Billings murder suspect claims innocence

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/07/15/florida.couple.slain/art.family.pnj.jpg caption="Byrd and Melanie Billings did not have any children together, but they cared for 16 children over the years."]

Kris Wernowsky

Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr. challenged the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation into the Byrd and Melanie Billings slayings saying the confession that led to his arrest was made by a man with mental illness.

“With the exception of the statements that have been made, coerced, bullied or manipulated out of a mentally ill person, there is no hard evidence that links me to the scene of the crimes that occurred July 9,” Gonzalez Jr. said.

Gonzalez Jr. made the apparent reference to his father, Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr. who confessed to driving his son and a friend to the Billingses’ rural Beulah home. The family patriarch is charged with tampering with evidence for trying to alter the van’s appearance, according to arrest records.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Temu

    I don't buy the story we are being given there is more to this...

    July 16, 2009 at 12:04 am |
  2. Kathleen

    Just because his last name is Hispanic does not mean he is. The pictures aired on our local news station are of a white suspect. Also there is video survalence of the robbery. This leaves out a lot of details that the news here reports on nightly

    July 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Do the defendants know they were caught on video tape yet? Or is this one defendant just particularily delusional? it will be interesting to see how they defend themselves after being id'ed on the home video surveillance camera. I just hope the Escambia police are careful and don't say or do anything or any evidence that the court will jeopardize their case. These people need to be locked up

    July 15, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  4. Jim M

    Since the claim of mental illiness is being made by Gonzalea Jr. against his father, shouldn't the father be given the same treatment as other "non-proved" individuals, that is " a man with an alleged mental illness"?

    July 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  5. Heather,ca

    I find this monsters comments meaningless. Despite his fathers "confession" wasn't there security cameras inside the home that recorded everything

    July 15, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  6. Mike in NYC

    Funny how Gonzalez' pic doesn't accompany this story, but the photo of the White woman who was just arrested accompanies the AC360 story on the "military precision" of the break-in itself, which she doesn't seem to have taken part in.

    July 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm |