I was sent your article “Ambush in Court.” I am the man who allowed Leonard Hayes the last second “stay of execution” so to speak.

Understand that I am about as right-wing, tough on crime as a man can be. That said, what would make me spend my limited time and hard earned money trying to  save an accused drug dealer like Leonard Hayes? Here’s what — Leonard Hayes should not spend the next 10 years or more in prison, and here is why: the Leonard Hayes I know is a very good man. I cannot tell you when he became a very good man, but I can tell you that I met Leonard 3 years ago in California.

I own a building I had  to modify and needed some help. A close friend recommended Leonard. After interviewing Mr. Hayes I decided to hire him. He turned out to be an excellent and trusted worker and a good, trustworthy friend. I gave Leonard keys to everything which included a valuable car collection.

During the time we worked together he talked repeatedly about his late start in life and passionately about becoming a contributing member of society. I didn’t ask, but it became obvious to me that he must have had a rough start. Leonard listened intently and patiently as I talked, lectured, philosophized, and gave advice, as we older men tend to do, hanging on to my every word. He would often return the next day with thoughts and questions of his own.

In my 61 years of life, 30 of those owning successful businesses that were made up of almost exclusively young men, I never met a man who was so intent about turning his life around and giving his young wife and daughter a stable home and firm foundation. He also told me — with pride — about the house he was refurbishing in Mississippi and how he and Kristen planned to buy it from the owner, and how, sadly, he had to take his wife and child away from Laurel and the influence of his family and local friends. Again, I didn’t pry. His decision was good enough for me.

After the work I had for Leonard ended, a close friend hired him to help rebuild a very famous and valuable race car. That took about 6 months to complete and when it ended, another friend who is a painting contractor eagerly snapped Leonard up so he could teach him the house painting trade. He was so pleased with Leonard, then suddenly he didn’t show up for work.

We all searched and eventually learned that Leonard had been extradited from California to Mississippi to face drug charges. After much discussion, research, and prayer, my wife and I decided that the life of Leonard Hayes needed to be protected by a great criminal defense lawyer and after a lot more research found Mr. Dow Yoder shortly before the hearing.

There you have it Mark. Now you know it wasn’t an “Ambush”, it was a last second “hail Mary”.  Hopefully Leonard wins this one, and we believe that if he wins, society wins.

God bless,

Chris Margarites

Writing from Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

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