PENSACOLA — The alleged ringleader of a group of men charged with killing a Panhandle couple as the family’s nine disabled children watched appeared confident in a videotaped interview with detectives recorded less than two days later and made public on Tuesday.
Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 35, had not been arrested and was speaking without an attorney during the 70-minute July 11 interview. He was arrested less than 24-hours later.
He told detectives he learned about Byrd and Melanie Billings’ deaths from television news.
“I hope you all get this solved because the guy had like 15 kids,” he said.
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“The woman, that’s the thing that really gets me.”
The 70-minute interview was among 26 CDs and DVDs of suspect interviews, evidence lists, photographs and other information released by prosecutors as part of a public information request in the July 9 home-invasion. The Billingses were well known for adopting numerous children with autism, Down syndrome and other special needs.
In another recorded interview Gonzalez’s father, Leonard Gonzalez Sr., 56, blamed the couple’s deaths on his son. The elder Gonzalez said he drove to the Billings’ home thinking the group was going to rob, not kill the couple.
Throughout much of his interview, the younger Gonzalez leans back in his chair while chatting and joking with the investigators.
“I’m wondering why nobody got shot, you know what I mean, because Byrd used to carry a gun,” he tells investigators.
In his interview with detectives, the older Gonzalez said he never believed the Billingses were going to be killed.