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Bob Leonard says ‘good riddance’ to dead brother in Richmond Hill case

Robert "Bob" Leonard Jr. (left) returns to jail from the City-County Building after entering a not guilty plea on Dec. 24, 2012, in the arraignment for the fatal Richmond Hill blast. Kelly Wilkinson/The Star

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – The death of Richmond Hill main conspirator Mark Leonard was greeted with “good riddance” by his half-brother who is still serving a term of life without parole for his role in the murderous insurance fraud scheme.

In a 15-minute-long phone call from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in southwest Indiana, Bob Leonard said his own life and the lives of the Richmond Hill neighbors “would have been better off if he had croaked back then,” referring to a life-threatening blood disorder that almost killed Mark Leonard in 2012.

Leonard said his brother, the boyfriend of Monserrate Shirley, owner of the home that was destroyed by an intentionally set natural gas explosion on November 10, 2012, was transferred from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City last summer to be cared for in an infirmary at the Wabash Valley prison.

During his trial it was revealed that Shirley nursed Leonard through a severe illness that left him in a coma in the intensive care unit of the IU Medical Center in the months before the explosion, which damaged more than 80 homes, caused $4 million in losses and killed two people.

Bob Leonard told FOX59 that during his brother’s hospitalization at Wabash Valley, he would visit the architect of the ill-fated plot for an hour twice a month and discuss the crime that landed both of them behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Mark Leonard was “crying in his wheelchair” as Bob blamed him for the predicament that resulted in his own murder and arson convictions.

“I’ve only been in trouble twice in my life and both times were his fault,” said Leonard. “I couldn’t care less that he’s dead.”

Describing his brother as a self-centered “piece of crap,” Leonard said Mark promised he would conduct a media interview to clear his name.

“’I’ll fix it,’” Bob Leonard quoted his brother as saying through his tears. “’I didn’t mean to get you in trouble.’”

Bob Leonard said the haphazard plot that rocked the south side and killed Jennifer and Dion Longworth never would have resulted in the insurance payoff that was anticipated.

“They were never gonna get $300,000,” he said. “They claimed they had a Picasso in there. Come on.”

Leonard said his brother pinned his hopes for freedom on an appeal that tied in his conviction for plotting the murder of a prosecution witness while Mark was inside the Marion County Jail.

“He thought his lawyer was going to get him out.”

“’Mark, you’re never getting out,’” Leonard said he told his brother. “’Do the right thing for once in your life,’” he said, encouraging Mark to take the full blame for the tragedy.

Leonard said he often confronted his brother during his illness and berated him for his own involvement in the scheme which he continues to deny, blaming his conviction on a defense attorney who, “sold me out.”

“I really wouldn’t call him ‘The Brains,’” said Leonard about his brother’s conception of the plan to destroy Shirley’s house and claim excessive insurance losses. “He was a user and he never did an honest day’s work in his life.”

Leonard said he was aware his brother was transferred to an Indianapolis hospital this week in anticipation of his deteriorating health and he learned of Mark Leonard’s death while watching FOX59 Tuesday afternoon.

“I don’t have a bit of sympathy for that son of a bitch,” said Leonard.

Leonard thinks his brother’s death will have no impact on his own appeal to overturn his conviction and sentence.

“Nobody would ever believe anything he would ever say anyway.”

The Marion County Coroner will conduct an autopsy on Leonard’s body.

A Department of Correction news release blames Leonard’s death on natural causes.