Man charged in deadly DWI crash released by judge until trial

It was July 2016 when witnesses told police Brian Leonard blew through a red light on Louisiana at I-40, crashing into a family.

Robert Neely was killed. His wife and child survived. 

“He’s making the turn, and he’s just barreling out two lanes over from me, right through that light,” said a witness to police.  

Officers said Leonard reeked of alcohol and he was charged with vehicular homicide and aggravated DWI. Judge Briana Zamora dismissed the charges a year ago, citing missed deadlines by the DA’s office. 

“Presently he’s allowed to live out of county, participating in the Suboxone program,” said Leonard’s attorney in court on Monday.  

Earlier this month the DA’s office finally re-filed the charges. In court Monday, prosecutors asked Judge Charles Brown to put Leonard behind bars until his trial calling him a danger to society. The judge gave the DA’s office a lecture. 

“If he was such a danger to the community, you got all the evidence in hand, why was there a year delay in re-indictment?” said Judge Charles Brown.  

The prosecutor had no answer for the judge’s criticism.

“I can’t speak to that your honor,” said the prosecutor. 

With that, Brian Leonard walked free again, waiting for his trial. 

“Alright, I’m gonna deny. The incident happened July 22 of 2016, we’re now at the end of the year 2018,” said Judge Brown. 

No trial date has been set. 

News 13 reached out to the District Attorney’s Office to find out why Leonard was not charged for the past year. They say they were trying to strike a plea deal and that the case kept bouncing around among prosecutors.

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