Auburn killing suspect turns himself in

789614.jpg

Auburn killing suspect turns himself in

From Comcast SportsNet
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- The three-day hunt for a man charged with killing three people near Auburn University ended with the suspect walking up the steps of an Alabama courthouse and peacefully turning himself in to a U.S. Marshal waiting inside. Hours after his surrender, Desmonte Leonard was being held early Wednesday in a Montgomery jail. He'd been on the run since Saturday, when authorities said he opened fire after a fight over a woman at a pool party. The manhunt was vexing for authorities who first dealt with misinformation from people who know Leonard, then narrowly missed catching him at a Montgomery house they searched inch-by-inch for nine hours. "It's been a trying case for all law enforcement involved," Auburn Police Chief Tommy Dawson said at a news conference announcing the arrest Tuesday night. Investigators said they believe the pressure of being on the run had finally gotten to Leonard. A Montgomery defense attorney said she arranged for him to surrender after getting word that his family wanted her help. Leonard, 22, is charged with three counts of capital murder and he's accused of wounding three others. The dead included two former Auburn football players, and a current player was among the injured. Dawson said Leonard will be moved to Opelika near the university for a first court appearance on Wednesday or Thursday. Attorney Susan James said she went to pick up Leonard with her son, who works for her as an investigator. She wouldn't say where except that it was about 50 miles from Montgomery. They drove him to meet investigators at the federal courthouse, where snipers were perched on the roof. "He was very calm, very tired and very ready to get this over with and very respectful," said James, a well-known attorney whose clients have included disgraced former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. She said they had time to talk while driving to Montgomery and added: "When the full story is told, it may sound different than the perception now." She said she agreed to help Leonard even though she hasn't been retained. "You don't want a bad end for anybody," she said. The Auburn police chief said Leonard appeared to be in good health, but he also declined to say where he had been hiding. "In a case like this there is no relief because those boys aren't coming home tonight," Dawson said. Two men already have been charged with misleading authorities during their search for Leonard. Leonard's surrender was a low-key ending to a manhunt that appeared to be at its most tense a day earlier, when officers swarmed a Montgomery home. They believed he was inside after getting two solid tips. Police surrounded the house Monday afternoon armed with tear gas, spy gear and assault rifles, but after a tense, nine-hour search, they discovered Leonard had fled by the time they arrived. At one point, they believed they heard movement and coughing in the attic, but their search that lasted until early Tuesday turned up nothing. Believing Leonard was hiding in the attic, officers fired tear gas into the rafters and poked through insulation. Investigators said thermal imaging and other technology showed a person was in the attic area. After police left, at least two holes were visible in the ceiling and the floor was littered with pieces of drywall and insulation. Scraps of insulation also littered the walkway outside the house. Officials promised to repay the house's owner for the damage. Meanwhile, funeral arrangements were made for the three who were killed. The Opelika-Auburn News reported that services for Ladarious Phillips were set for Friday afternoon at the Handley High School gymnasium in Roanoke, Ala. Services for Demario Pitts were scheduled for Friday at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Loachapoka, Ala. And services for Ed Christian will take place Saturday at J.E. Mathis Municipal Auditorium in Valdosta, Ga. Auburn University President Jay Gogue commended law enforcement on Leonard's surrender. "We appreciate the dedication and commitment of the Auburn City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies," he said. "This is a difficult time for our campus and community. We're remembering those who lost their lives, and it's important that we pull together to help those who are grieving and recovering."

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

When you're on a roll, you hate disrupting it for anything.

The Blackhawks probably felt that in some respect heading into the new NHL-mandated bye week on Feb. 12, but the need for rest usurped any worry on that front. Still, when the Blackhawks reconvened last Friday, the question remained if they could pick up where they left off on that pre-bye, five-game winning streak.

As coach Joel Quenneville said of the unusual break, "we talked about it going into it: you don't know how you're going to come out of it."

Apparently it hasn't been a problem.

The Blackhawks have won two of their first three out of the bye, including their 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Coming out of this break hasn't been easy for a lot of teams. The Blackhawks, like 11 other teams up to this point, lost their first game out of it. But in that loss to Edmonton, the Blackhawks played well. That continued on Sunday in Buffalo and on Tuesday in Minnesota. Now back in a rhythm schedule-wise, the Blackhawks are hitting their stride performance-wise.

"I thought we played a good game against Edmonton but we still felt there'd be some good will down the road. I thought we continued on with these next two on the road, probably played the same way going into it. So it's been a good stretch for us, and much better than we were at the beginning of the year," Quenneville said. "I like the improvement in our game."

A big part of the Blackhawks' success is finding their four-line rotation.

Jonathan Toews was joined by Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik early in the Ice Show trip, the three were given time to mesh and it's paying productive dividends. The second line is always a threat. Their third and fourth lines are a great combination of defense, skill and youth.

As the lines have started rolling, so have the Blackhawks. Each line had someone score against Buffalo. The top line thrived vs. the Wild. 

"I think all year we kind of expected the offense, coming from Arty's [Artem Anisimov's] line and maybe my line, but what's making us a really good team is our third and fourth line going out there and just battling every shift, just working, giving other teams no time, no chance to make plays with the puck," Toews said. "I think when you can rotate four lines like that, everyone starts to pick up their pace and their speed and then you just rotate in and it doesn't matter who scores on a given night. We're getting contributions from all over the place and it makes you a dangerous team and a tough team to beat."

Instead of taking steam out of the Blackhawks' sails, the bye appears to have re-energized them.

"Yeah it was good for our team," Ryan Hartman said. "We had a few guys who didn't get [rest during] the all-star break. They were still playing, and it was nice for those guys to get away from the rink and kind of get in the sun and take your mind of hockey for a bit, refresh the brain and body. I think we all needed those couple days of rest. As it's looked the last couple of games we've looked fresh and we've been bringing it almost a full 60. I wouldn't say we're quite playing a full 60 but we're really close and that was crucial for us."

Playing a full 60 was one of the Blackhawks' biggest problems earlier this season. Much like the four-line rotation, it's showing up at the right time. The Blackhawks have a great opportunity this week to get closer to the Wild, who started their break on Wednesday.

The issues that plagued the Blackhawks earlier this season are starting to dissipate. They weren't sure how they were going to come out of this break. So far, they've followed rest and relaxation with a rejuvenated game. 

"We're just rolling four lines now. Every line can score and every line's playing the best hockey," Panik said. "That's helped us."

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.