Lost in all the hubbub and butt plug of movie news is a real-life story with all the drama and intrigue of Hollywood blockbuster. It’s the capital murder trial of one Leonard Gonzalez Jr. and seven of his compatriots, who, in a story as old as time, planned a ninja attack on a special needs family in order to save his struggling karate school. Yes, it’s like The Foot Fist Way meets In Cold Blood meets meth. And this part may come as a shock, but it happened in Florida.
On July 9, 2009, dressed as ninjas and wearing black masks, Gonzalez and seven others crept into the Billings’ home. Once inside, prosecutors allege it was Gonzalez Jr. who shot and killed the couple while one of their special needs children looked on. According to witness statements, it’s alleged the gang of “ninjas” entered the home with hopes of stealing the family’s home safe which they believed contained upwards of 13 million dollars.
The defendant’s wife, Tabitha Gonzalez, testified that the family’s business, a karate school, had gone under. Prosecutors argue this indicates that financial gain was Leonard Gonzalez’s overriding motive.
“He was so broke … that his mother had to buy him a car, which turned out to be a big red van that was used in the murders,” prosecutor Bill Eddins said in his opening statements of Gonzalez.
A van full of murdering ninjas? Yes, a van full of murdering ninjas.
Of the eight people arrested in the case, seven males faced charges of murder and home invasion robbery. Two of them have already pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges. The woman is accused of being an accessory after the fact.
SEVEN DUDES! “Wait, sensei, so you’re saying you want me to murder this guy in front of his disabled children? STRIKE FIRST STRIKE HARD NO MERCY!”
The remaining males, including a 16-year-old charged as an adult, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The safe at the center of the ordeal was found with nothing more than prescriptions for the children, assorted business paper work and sentimental family jewelry. From beginning to end the entire attack lasted four minutes. Ironically the Billings’ home was equipped with a sophisticated video surveillance system which failed to save their lives. [CNN]
Let this be a lesson to everyone: never, ever keep a safe in your house, because some crackhead will just assume it’s full of money, even if you live in Pensacola with a house full of foster kids. As a karate expert, I wonder if The Rent is Too Damn High party representative Jimmy McMillan will testify as an expert witness.
Related: you know who else keeps a safe full of children’s medication and sentimental jewelry? You guessed it, Gary Busey.