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Defendant in Auburn triple killing says he feared for life

OPELIKA, Ala. - A man on trial for murder in the gunshot slayings of two one-time Auburn University football players and another person said Friday he was being attacked and feared for his life when he began shooting.

Desmonte Leonard took the stand to testify in his defense after prosecutors rested their case.

Leonard says he and then-Auburn player DeAngelo Benton got into a verbal dispute during a pool party near campus in June 2012.

Leonard, 24, says things escalated into a fistfight, and someone hit a friend with a bottle.

"Immediately after that he struck me with a bottle," Leonard said. "I dropped to the ground. I just remember feeling hard kicks."

Leonard, who says he still suffers physical problems from a 2008 shooting in the abdomen, said he was afraid of dying.

"I couldn't get up and something clicked. I was forced to make a quick decision," he said.

Leonard said he rolled over, pulled a gun out of his pants, covered his face and began shooting. He said people quickly scattered.

"When that happened I knew I was safe," Leonard said.

Defense lawyers contend Leonard was acting in self-defense.

Leonard said he didn't know anyone had been shot until the next morning, when he heard on the news that he was wanted for capital murder.

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