FT. WAYNE, Ind. (Feb. 16, 2016) -- Two former inmates have testified that Bob Leonard Jr., essentially admitted his role in the fatal Richmond Hill explosion that rocked the south side of Indianapolis and killed two people.
Leonard has been housed since Christmas of 2012 in the Marion County and Allen County Jails.
He faces more than 50 counts, including murder, for his alleged part in plotting and setting off the natural gas explosion that destroyed the house of Monserrate Shirley in a $300,000 insurance fraud scheme.
Jeremy Bullock testified that he had known Leonard from an earlier stint in the Johnson County Jail in 1994.
They were jailed together again in the Marion County Jail 20 years later.
Bullock claimed Leonard told him about the layout of Shirley’s home and drew a diagram of the house while explaining that a microwave oven, containing a bowl with a gold rim and a fork, was set to explode at approximately 11 p.m. on November 10, 2012, trigging the blast in the two-story dwelling full of natural gas.
Tristan Wiegman told jurors that he was housed with Leonard inside the Allen County Jail last September when the defendant was briefly transferred to Fort Wayne for a preliminary hearing.
Wiegman said at night, he heard Leonard muttering to himself, “Nobody was supposed to get hurt,” “It was supposed to be easy,” and, “I’m not supposed to be here in jail.”
Leonard told FOX59 during several jailhouse interviews in January, before he was silenced by his attorneys, that he was not involved in the plot of his half-brother Mark Leonard to blow up his girlfriend’s home.
Jurors heard from Tonya Fishburn, a Marion County Forensics DNA analyst, who testified that Leonard’s DNA was discovered on the front door to Shirley’s house and in a white Ford van that neighbors spotted in their community the day of the blast.
Leonard told FOX59 he had visited the Shirley home and ridden in the van in the days before the explosion and expected his DNA would be discovered there.
The jury also saw a surveillance videotape of the Leonard brothers purchasing a thermostat at a southside Menard’s store less than a week before the explosion.
Shirley testified that the brothers swapped out her digital thermostat for a less expensive analog device as part of an earlier failed attempt to perfect their scheme of triggering a spark in the home filled with natural gas.
Arthur Kirkpatrick, a longtime employee of Citizens Energy, is expected to wrap up today’s testimony by recalling his meeting with the Leonard brothers on November 9, 2012, at the Gaslight Inn on South Meridian Street and a conversation that turned to the explosive properties of natural gas.
Jurors saw a surveillance videotape of that meeting with Kirkpatrick demonstrably showing the Leonards that once a house filled up with natural gas, “just like a balloon…it would pop.”
The prosecution is expected to rest its case Wednesday after final testimony by Homicide Detective Jeff Wager, the lead investigator in the case.
Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull is taking Thursday off to interview for an open state supreme court seat in Indianapolis.
Leonard’s defense team is expected to call three witnesses to the stand Friday before resting its case.
During a jailhouse telephone interview, Leonard told FOX59 he would insist on being called to the witness stand to testify on his own behalf.