INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 10, 2014) – An attorney representing Richmond Hill suspect Monserrate Shirley has filed an objection to a prosecutor’s plan to hold his client’s trial concurrently with the cases against two other defendants.
James Voyles filed an objection with Judge Shelia Carlisle in opposition to the proposal for concurrent trials by the Marion County Prosecutors Office.
Voyles argues that trying all three defendants at the same time in front of three seperate juries in a Super Trial would be a “recipe for mistrial disaster.”
Voyles claims he would not be able to mount a vigorous defense for his client if agressive cross-examination or an inadvertent comment by a witness could contaminate either of the juries hearing the cases against co-defendants Bob and Mark Leonard.
Mark Leonard is accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme to destroy Shirley’s home in an insurance scheme in November of 2012.
Investigators claim a natural gas explosion destroyed the home, killed two neighbors and caused $4 million in damages.
Shirley argues she knew nothing about Leonard’s plan with his half-brother to blow up the house.
Judge Carlisle has ruled the defendants can be tried separately as their defenses may be predicated on placing the blame on one another.
The Marion County Prosecutor has suggested, due to cost and logistical challenges, that all three trials be held side-by-side before three juries and one judge with jurors excused during sensitive or contradictory testimony.
Voyles argues that Indiana law does not spell out guidelines for concurrent trials and that such an arrangement would be a, “breeding ground for confusion,” as jurors would naturally speculate why they were being excluded during some testimony.
The attorney writes that the, “stakes are high,” for his client who faces the possibility of a life sentence without parole if convicted and that the prosecutor’s proposal would, “gut,” Shirley’s due process rights.
Voyles also shares the prosecutor’s misgivings over trial, security, evidence and jury housing challenges.
Mark Leonard’s attorneys have also filed an objection to the plan.
Judge Shelia Carlisle extended the deadline until today to receive counsel objections to the proposal.
Mark Leonard is expected to be the lead defendant if the trials begin in June.