Trial begins for man accused of killing 77-year-old in her North Fort Myers condo in 2017

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Brett Pleasant. Credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office

The trial for a man accused of killing a 77-year-old woman in her North Fort Myers condo in 2017 began on Tuesday. A jury was selected, the prosecution and defense gave opening statements and testimony began.

Jo Ann Leasure (Photo via Covenant Presbyterian Church directory)

Brett Pleasant is facing charges of second-degree murder and robbery. Prosecutors say he killed Jo Ann Leasure while inside her North Fort Myers condo with her dog. Leasure was found dead on June 21, 2017.

Leasure’s friend Mary Kuerth was not the first witness on the stand Tuesday, but she was the most emotional.

It got emotional because it got personal.
Today, the jury learned that Leasure was likely getting ready for bed before she was killed. Her pajamas were laid out, and her bed was still neatly made. She never got the chance to take her sneakers off.

Her tears quickly captivated the primarily empty courtroom as she described the moment she went looking for her friend. “It made my hair stand on my arms. I knew something was horribly wrong.”

When Kuerth got herself together, she got herself to the sixth floor, and she opened the door to her friends’ condo. “Her face and her head, and her body, she was very bloody, her face was basically not discernable as my friend.”

Kuerth didn’t see her friend. Instead, she saw a body, bloody and discarded.

Crime scene technicians saw something too. Marks on Leasure’s carpet were consistent with hands being dragged or clawed into the rug.

Kuerth said she knew immediately that her friend’s soul had already left that beaten body, but when prosecutors asked her whether she made sure, she said, of course. Kuerth said, “to see if there was something we could do for her. Her legs were this strange color pale yellow. You don’t have a good feeling, but you have to check.”

When the defense got its turn to cross-examine Leasure’s friend, they asked her about the fact nobody saw Pleasant there that night. He asked her since the community is almost all white wouldn’t someone remember such a tall Black man? Kuerth said probably, but that workers come in and out of the complex all the time.

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