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National Briefing / Florida

Solo shooter alleged in slayings

July 22, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

One man planned a home invasion and fatally shot a couple who had adopted several special-needs children, one of eight suspects in the case said.

According to court documents, Fredrick Thornton, 19, said martial arts instructor Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 35, organized the July 9 attack and killed Byrd Billings, 66, and Melanie Billings, 43. Gonzalez has proclaimed his innocence.

The Billingses had 17 children, 13 adopted.

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