Nearly four years after a beloved librarian was attacked and killed in Fort Myers Beach, the man accused of murdering him has been deemed competent to stand trial starting Thursday.
Dr. Leroy Hommerding was stabbed to death on the front steps of the Fort Myers Beach Library in January 2019, leaving the community shocked and devastated. The suspect, Adam Soules, had to undergo a competency exam before beginning his trial, as he had shown signs of delusional thinking.
According to Soules’ confession, the murder was pre-meditated. Lee County deputies said Soules told them he wanted to kill Hommerding for some time, because he felt Hommerding had disrespected him.
The arrest report says Soules told deputies that once he saw Hommerding opening up the Fort Myers Beach Library, he saw his opportunity to kill the librarian.
Hommerding is remembered by loved ones for his big heart and open arms. They say his character shined through every book he shelved and the friends he made.
“He was so dedicated to the library—I mean, he was the force behind the library getting bigger,” said one Fort Myers Beach resident. I know a lot of people were against it. He was the force behind it. I mean, he was the library.”
“The island is going to miss him terribly,” said another. “This building is going to miss him, and it was his life.”
Community remembers Hommerding. WINK News photo.
In 2019, psychologist Dr. Keegan Culver took the stand to explain her findings on Soules. She said he was fascinated with Jesus Christ, which is why experts say Soules believed he killed Hommerding in self-defense.
“[Soules] doesn’t even think that [Hommerding] is deceased, that he believes the individual was persecuting him because he is an agent of Jesus Christ, and that he, Mr. Soules, is actually the true victim in this case,” Culver said.
“It’s a tragic situation, but I think there was some mental issues as well with him,” said a friend of Hommerding. “But he needed to be locked up or put in a facility.”
“It’s a very tragic event,” said Pastor Shawn Critser. “I hate that it happened to Leroy. Just a great, soft-spoken guy who really had a huge heart for compassion.”
A jury has been selected, and the trial for the librarian’s accused killer is finally underway. WINK News will provide updates from the Lee County Courthouse.