Man gets life sentence after killing girlfriend, 3 sleeping children in hammer attack
TERRYTOWN - A man was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences in prison after ambushing and murdering three children and his girlfriend with a hammer in a 2019 attack.
Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick Jr. told WWL-TV that 36-year-old Terrance Leonard pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of first-degree murder. The attack claimed the lives of 32-year-old Kristina Riley, her 14-year-old daughter, her 10-year-old son, and her 9-year-old niece.
The attack happened on March 6, 2019, at the couple's apartment in the 900 block of West Monterey Court. Authorities say Leonard admitted to attacking the children while they were sleeping and then waiting for Riley to return home from work.
Later that morning, Leonard's mother found Riley and the children with head trauma and called the sheriff's office.
Deputies found Riley, her son, and her niece dead inside the apartment. Her 14-year-old daughter died days later at a hospital.
Investigators said Leonard hid the hammer used in the murders in a nearby trash can, and he tried to clean up the blood before leaving the apartment. He later returned to the scene with his mother who called authorities, not knowing her son committed them, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto said. The sheriff said he believed that Leonard returned to the scene to appear to have an alibi.
After the attack, Lopinto said Leonard told deputies that he was under the influence of drugs at the time. A neighbor told deputies she heard the couple arguing that night when Riley returned home, but the neighbor did not call police.
Leonard also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and attempted first-degree murder of another of Riley's daughters, who was 12 years old at the time of the attack.
Contrary to the district attorney's office's plans in June 2019, prosecutors have agreed to not seek the death penalty in this case, officials told WWL-TV.
Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Leonard to 50 years in prison for the attempted first-degree murder, four life sentences, and a 40-year sentence for the obstruction of justice charge.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said Leonard has an extensive criminal history that includes arrests for narcotics possession and distribution, second-degree battery, simple battery, and several offenses against law enforcement.
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