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Laurent guilty of murder (Updated 2:15 p.m.)

Leo Lucas Laurent Jr. has been convicted of the murder of his wife, Brandi Hawkins Laurent and sentenced to life in prison, a jury decided today in Hattiesburg.

It took the jury about an hour to decide the Bay St. Louis man's fate.

The trial was moved from Hancock County to Forrest County because of news media coverage.

The trial began Monday. Prosecutors wrapped up their case earlier Wednesday and the defense called no witnesses.

Defense attorneys have called Laurent's wife's death an accident. Prosecutors said Brandi Hawkins Laurent was murdered and buried in a shallow grave.

Dr. Paul McGarry, forensic pathologist, testified the cause of Brandi Laurent's death was strangulation and he found no evidence of gunshot wounds in two autopsies performed after her body was found.

Her body was discovered in Hancock County in 2007 about 100 days after her death. He was accused of killing her on Aug. 3, 2007.

Check back at sunherald.com for updates.

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