Joseph Paul Leonard Jr. is attempting to block prosecutors’ accusations that race was a motivating factor in his killing of a black man in Sacramento, Calif., the Sacramento Bee reports.
Leonard, 62, claimed self-defense when he was arrested on vehicular-assault charges after, authorities say, he ran over Toussaint Harrison on June 6, 2013, the Bee reports. Harrison died two days later, and charges were upgraded to murder. Leonard is also facing charges of attempted murder, and accusations of attempting to run over Harrison’s friend Justin Oliphant, the Bee notes.
According to the Bee, evidence showed that Leonard “burned 23 feet of rubber” before colliding into the ill-fated 34-year-old Harrison.
“Just because we got Obama for a president, these people think they are real special,” Leonard allegedly said while sitting in the back of a sheriff’s patrol car following his arrest, the news site reports.
According to the Bee, authorities charge that after taking down Harrison with his 1997 Chevy S-10, Leonard got out of the truck and kicked the injured man multiple times in the head with steel-toed boots.
The occurrences leading up to Harrison’s death started early in the morning at a McDonald’s on Arden Way in Sacramento, the news site reports. Leonard reportedly pulled up with a friend, Samantha Silva, shortly before Harrison and Oliphant appeared and started “offering food to homeless people that they had obtained from a nearby hotel,” a brief from the deputy district attorney noted, the Bee reports. Defense attorneys claim that the men stole the food from the hotel.
Silva was the first to exit the McDonald’s, and she was approached by one of the two men, who, she told an investigator, asked her if she was hungry, the Bee reports. While she was conversing with the two men, Leonard appeared and allegedly flew into a rage.
The enraged older man reportedly got a chain from his truck, swinging it like a lasso in an attempt to hit Harrison and Oliphant, and stomping on a bicycle that had been ridden by Harrison. According to Oliphant, Leonard used racial slurs while confronting them, the Bee reports.
According to the Bee, one of the men threw a knife at Leonard, while the other threw another sharp object, cutting him, as indicated in pictures showing an abrasion to Leonard’s torso and a lacerated cheek.
“I was in fear for my life. You see what they did to me? You make sure you include that in the report. … I beat them off me. … They cut me,” Leonard told the deputy while seated in the car, the Bee reports.
“I mean, it was pretty bad,” he added. “If those punks wanted bad, they got bad. You know, I think people are getting tired of being abused by the situation, the way people are being. I myself am tired of it. I am victimized every time I turn around.”
Read more at the Sacramento Bee.