Court funds to pay for tests in marijuana cookie homicide

July 14 – WILKES-BARRE – An attorney for homicide suspect Lavrius O’Brian Watson has applied to Luzerne County Court for funds to pay the fees of a forensic chemist as a defense expert.

Watson, 27, of Pocono Summit, was charged by Hazleton State Police with fatally stabbing Elizabeth Bennett Leonard, 41, inside her Vandermark Avenue home in Nuangola on October 16, 2021 .

Watson, according to court records, claimed he had an adverse reaction after consuming a marijuana cookie before stabbing Leonard.

State Police investigators say Leonard suffered five stab wounds.

In a preliminary hearing Wednesday before Judge David W. Lupas, Watson’s attorney, Thomas P. Sundmaker, requested court funds to pay a forensic chemist because Watson is indigent.

Once scientific testing is complete on Watson’s behalf, the report will be provided to First Assistant District Attorney Anthony Ross for review by the prosecution’s expert.

Lupas said he will issue an order once the chemist’s fees have been argued and will issue a trial management order setting further pretrial hearings, jury selection and a trial date.

Court records indicate that Watson, who has known Leonard for nearly seven years, helped him babysit. They went out to dinner and upon returning to his residence, Watson told investigators he ate an edible marijuana cookie, which caused an adverse reaction, according to court records.

Watson is charged with criminal homicide and remains jailed without bond at the County Correctional Facility.

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