The Associated Press
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A Florida couple known for adopting special needs children struggled with armed intruders before they were led away to be gunned down, surveillance video shows.
The video viewed Thursday by reporters shows Byrd Billings first put his arms in the air, then grapple with armed men who entered the family's living room July 9. His wife, Melanie, is seen protectively grabbing what appears to be a child on the shadowy, time-lapsed video taken by the home's surveillance system. The couple are then led away from the room.
The two were shot dead in their bedroom, where there were no surveillance cameras. Video taken by investigators includes shots of the couple's bodies in their bedroom. The crime scene footage was also shown to reporters Thursday.
The viewing took place at the prosecutor's office under a compromise reached by the media and survivors of the Billings, who adopted 13 special needs children. A judge allowed the media to view but not copy or distribute security video taken from the home.
Six men and a 16-year-old have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the slayings.
Investigators say that in the weeks before the attack, alleged ringleader Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., 35, asked a few friends to help in the crime.
Gonzalez's stepmother told investigators that he persuaded his 56-year-old father, Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Sr., to drive the getaway car by telling him that the Billings children were being sexually abused.
Besides the Gonzalezes, also charged are Wayne Coldiron, 41; Donnie Ray Stallworth, 28; Gary Lamont Sumner Jr., 30; Frederick Lee Thornton Jr., 19; and Rakeem Florence, 16.
The surveillance cameras captured men wearing ninja garb and black masks entering the couple's sprawling house, stealing a safe that had little of value in it and leaving in less than four minutes. The robbers missed a second safe that held $164,000 in cash, a lawyer for the victims' family has said.
Nine children between the ages of 4 and 11 were at the home during the slayings. According to a sheriff's report, one child told investigators he heard a knock on the door and that "two bad men" said, "You're going to die, one, two, three" and then, "no way, no way."
According to autopsy reports, Melanie Billings, 43, was shot twice in her chest, and in the face and head. Byrd Billings, 66, was shot multiple times in the head and legs.