The Idaho coroner who ruled that four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their sleep is also the defense attorney for an convicted killer who was arrested earlier this week just a mile away the scene of the quadruple homicide.
James Curtis Leonard, 39, of Moscow, Idaho, allegedly beat his wife and stalked her around the house with a knife late Tuesday and then slashed himself with a knife, according to court documents obtained by Fox News.
Leonard was arrested following the incident on Palouse River Drive, just a mile from where the four students were murdered on November 13. Police say his arrest was not related to the killings that have shaken the small Idaho town of Moscow.
Court documents revealed that he had previously pleaded guilty to a fatal shooting in 2007. Following his arrest this week, it’s been confirmed that Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt – and her office Mabbutt Law – will represent Leonard.
Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt and her law office, Mabbutt Law, are now representing ex-convicted killer James Leonard who was arrested on Tuesday a mile away from where the four college students were killed on November 13. The arrest was not related to the murders
Leonard, 39, of Moscow, Idaho, allegedly beat his wife and her daughter late Tuesday and then slashed himself with a knife. He served time after take a plea deal for manslaughter in 2007
Leonard’s arrest comes as the college town of Moscow remains focused on the unsolved murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, which happened in November, about 1.3 miles downhill off of the next crossroad.
In the latest update, Inan Harsh, a local chef, who lives near the off-campus house told the Idaho Statesman he got home around 1:30 a.m. on November 13 and as he began to fall asleep around 4 a.m., he said he heard what sounded like a scream coming from the area of 1122 King Road, the Statesman reported. But thought it was from a party, and not from anything sinister.
‘I didn’t think anything of it,’ Harsh added. ‘After what happened, I’ve definitely had second thoughts. Maybe it was not a party sound.’
Nearly a month after the killings, and just a mile down the road, ex-convict Leonard was arrested in an unrelated case and charged with domestic battery with traumatic Injury, aggravated assault, attempted strangulation, and felony injury to child.
His defense attorneys are Cathy Mabbutt and Nicholas Smiley with Mabbutt Law. Mabbutt, who is both an attorney and a nurse, is also the Latah County Coroner, was elected to office in 2006, shortly before Leonard’s 2007 manslaughter case. His defense attorney at the time, Sunil Ramalingam, is now a judge.
Leonard shot and killed Tyler Lee outside his house in Genesee in 2007, according to an affidavit. He claimed it was self-defense and told police that Lee had previously threatened him with ‘bats, machetes and other things.’
In February 2009, Leonard took a plea deal – admitting to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a five- to 15-year sentence, according to court documents. The court suspended his sentence in May 2009 and he was placed on 15 years probation.
Just under 15 years later, Leonard was arrested in Tuesday’s incident on a slew of assault charges.
Leonard’s arrest comes on the heels of the unsolved murders of Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and Ethan Chapin, 20, which happened in November
Police have said that they believe the murders happened between 3am and 4am on the morning of November 13
Police arrived at the home on Palouse River Drive to find Leonard’s wife with blood on her nose and mouth. When Leonard was ordered to come out of a back room, he had blood on his hands and large cut on his forearm.
‘Dispatch advised an intoxicated husband punched his wife in the head and struck his daughter,’ according to a criminal complaint.
His wife told police that he had drank ‘half a bottle of gin’ and became heavily intoxicated, accused her of cheating on him and yelled at her in front of her two kids, 20 and 15, her daughter’s 21-year-old boyfriend and a 1-year-old grandchild.
The complaint alleges that Leonard then went into his room and began cutting himself. When his wife checked on him, he allegedly punched her. He also allegedly beat up the 15-year-old, who was later found with a concussion.
Leonard was also accused of stalking his wife around the house with a knife and then slashed his own arm while she was on the phone with 911.
Police have been inundated with tips related to their search for a 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra sedan that was spotted near the off-campus house where four students were killed on Nov 13
Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, both 21, were murdered on the top floor of the house
The Moscow Police Department probed the movements of victims Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle (together above), who visited Ethan’s fraternity house hours before the murders
The arrest comes as the town is already on edge with the deaths of the four college students who were stabbed to death likely while they slept, Mabbutt had said.
Moscow police said on Thursday that they were looking for the occupant or occupants of a white 2011 to 2013 Hyundai Elantra that was seen near the crime scene. The department received so many tips, they have enlisted in an FBI call center for help.
‘Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be the piece of the puzzle that helps investigators solve these murders,’ police said in a statement.
Police have said that they believe the murders happened between 3am and 4am on the morning of November 13.
A neighbor said that the front door, which gives access to the floor where two of the victims’ roommates were staying – was open at 8:30 a.m. on November 13.
But speaking to DailyMail.com this week at the city’s Christmas parade, police chief James Frye said the report – in which a neighbor noticed the door wide open 8:30 am the morning after – was news to him.
Police believe Ethan and Xana visited the Sigma Chi house from about 9pm on November 12 until around 1.45am, when they returned to Xana’s off-campus home, just a brief walk away, where the murders took place.
Ethan and Xana, 20-year-olds who were dating, were stabbed to death along with Xana’s roommates Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen, both 21, in the home they shared, likely while they were sleeping. Police still have no suspects and no murder weapon.
Kaylee and Madison were found on the top floor of the Moscow, Idaho home. College lovers Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were found in a second-floor bedroom while survivors Dylan Mortensen and Bethany Funke were sleeping on the first floor
Earlier appeals to the public had focused on Kaylee and Madison’s activities on the night of the murders, which involved stops at a sports bar and a food truck.
Meanwhile, tensions grew further between investigators and the families of the victims, who have spoken out in frustration about the failure to identify a suspect.
Kaylee’s father Steven previously told NewsNation’s Brian Entin that police had told him her injuries were worse than the other victims’, but he didn’t go into detail.
Moscow Police contradicted that remark in their new statement, saying: ‘With the active criminal investigation, law enforcement has not released additional facts to the family or the public.’
Kaylee’s family (above) previously said they learned that her injuries were worse than the other victims’. The family say they are tired of waiting for answers from the cops in Moscow
Police downsized the investigation this week after officers were able to remove the victims’ personal belongings from their King Street home, which remains an ‘active crime scene’
Weeks after the grisly murders, few answers have come out and authorities have yet to name a suspect or even a person of interest in the case.
Autopsies determined the four students were stabbed to death, likely with a fixed-blade knife, and investigators checked with local stores to see if any had sold military-style knives recently.
Kaylee and Madison were sleeping on the third floor, and Xana and Ethan were on the second floor. Cops said the killer entered the house through a sliding glass door on the second floor, which was level with the backyard.
Two other roommates were in the house but were unharmed and unaware the attack occurred. They were sleeping on the first floor.
‘We believe someone has information that will add context to the picture investigators are creating of what occurred that evening,’ Moscow police said in a statement on Monday.
‘Our focus is the investigation, not the activities. Your information, whether you believe it is significant or not, might be one of the puzzle pieces that help solve these murders.’