Prosecutor to seek more funds for Richmond Hill case

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By Russ McQuaid

INDIANAPOLIS - When Judge Sheila Carlisle decided that Mark Leonard's Richmond Hill trial should hit the road to find an unbiased jury, her ruling put a high cost on Marion County's pursuit for justice.

Prosecutor Terry Curry told FOX59 News he will have to ask the City-County Council for more money in his 2015 budget to accommodate the first of what could be three out-of-town trials for the alleged south side explosion co-conspirators.

"I think that there's no question that given where we are at this point we're going to have to ask for some additional assistance on our budget to cover those costs."

Those costs would include housing and expenses for Curry's prosecutors and staff and the cost of expert testimony and evidence presentation.

And that doesn't include the costs to the court to possibly rent a judge and a staff and pay for a jury expected to sit through a six week long trial.

When the David Bisard case was moved to Fort Wayne last year, Allen County billed Marion County $25,588 for incarcerating the IMPD cop accused of in a fatal drunk driving crash, hosting a jury of up to 16 people for more than three weeks and devoting a courtroom and staff to the trial.

The Marion County Prosecutor spent in excess of $70,000.

The Leonard case is expected to cost more.

More than 200 witnesses may be called to the stand to review over one thousand pieces of evidence in a case that will be heavy in scientific and engineering testimony.

Curry said most of his witnesses will be government experts and agents, but Leonard has a public defender which means Marion County taxpayers will pick up the costs of his defense.

"I think it's going to require a destination where they have sufficiently large courtrooms and a number of courtrooms where they can break out a courtroom for an extended period of time," said Curry,  "So, out of necessity, I think it's going to be one of the larger counties here in the state.

"At this point there's probably as many as ten to twelve counties that we're discussing, but in terms of pinpointing one, we're far from doing that."

Counties in central Indiana would seem to be out of the question as TV viewers from Muncie to Bloomington, from Lafayette and Kokomo to Columbus, have had a steady diet of Richmond Hill news since the dust and smoked clear from the explosion in the fall of 2012.

"There'll be a lot of people no matter where you go in the state of Indiana who have heard of the case," said Curry.  "To the extent that they have the details of the case that individuals in Indianapolis have, I don't think that's the case.

"The Officer Bisard case had received an enormous amount of publicity over the course of that case....and we were surprised, and pleasantly surprised, that when we went to Ft Wayne and tried the case that most of those individuals knew nothing about the Officer Bisard matter."

Curry said his deputy prosecutors will sit down with the Court and the defense attorneys Monday to begin whittling down the possible trial locations so that Judge Carlisle can begin reaching out her counterparts to determine their interest and ability in holding such a high profile case in their court.

Co-defendants Monserrate Shirley and Bob Leonard have not filed similar change of venue motions but Judge Carlisle's ruling in the Mark Leonard trial would seem to fit the parameters of their cases.

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