A White California man stands accused of burning 23 feet of rubber before smashing his 1997 green Chevy S-10 into a 34-year-old man and killing him, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Joseph Paul Leonard Jr., 62, who is currently on trial for hate crime murder, allegedly exited his vehicle and proceeded to strike the victim, Toussaint Harrison, several times in the head with his steel-toed work boots.
“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 after his arrest.
The incident occurred about 6 a.m. on June 6, 2013 as the victim and another man, Justin Oliphant, were handing out food to homeless people, the newspaper writes. But defense attorneys claim the men had stolen the food from a nearby hotel.
Leonard reportedly became enraged after the men approached a female friend. He allegedly grabbed a chain from his pickup and confronted Harrison, the friend said, “and surveillance video shows him swinging it around like a lasso over his head,” the report says.
[His friend, Samantha] Silva came out of the McDonald’s first and was approached by the two men. She told sheriff’s investigators that one of the two men “asked if she was hungry,” according to one deputy’s testimony. Oliphant testified at Leonard’s preliminary hearing in May that he also may have asked her for a cigarette. While he and Harrison were talking to her, Leonard emerged from the McDonald’s, “and she described that he went crazy and lost his temper,” sheriff’s Detective Pamela Linke testified at the hearing.
Linke said Silva told investigators that Leonard retrieved a chain from the back of his truck and “he was swinging it, trying to hit the boys.”
A videotape from the McDonald’s shows Harrison and Oliphant backing off while Leonard appears to be swinging the chain over his head, lasso style. He got back in his truck and drove out of view before he re-emerged in the picture, with the chain more clearly visible in his hand. He proceeded to stomp on a bicycle that had been ridden by Harrison.
Leonard is scheduled to testify during the trial, which resumes Nov. 17.