Richmond Hill suspects back in court Wednesday

Three people accused of planning a massive south side house explosion that resulted in the deaths of two neighbors appeared in court Wednesday.

Moncy Shirley, Mark Leonard and his half-brother Bob Leonard Jr. face two murder counts in connection with the Nov. 10 house explosion that killed Jennifer and Dion Longworth. They were in court for a pre-trial conference.

All three suspects will face trial in June 2014 although the judge hasn’t decided if they’ll be tried separately or together. Prosecutors want them to face life without parole, but defense attorneys filed a motion to dismiss that. In addition, there has been no decision on a change of venue.

According to investigators, the trio filled Shirley’s house with gas and used a timing device on a microwave to set off an explosion. They hoped to collect insurance money, prosecutors said. The blast leveled the home and destroyed or damaged dozens of others.

Other charges against them include arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Mark Leonard faces an additional charge in connection with a murder-for-hire plot after prosecutors said he attempted to hire a hit man to kill a key witness.

They’re due back in court on Aug. 14.

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