Richmond Hill blast suspects appear in court as judge mulls trial date

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INDIANAPOLIS – Judge Shelia Carlisle indicated during a pretrial hearing that the three defendants in the Richmond Hill case could go to trial as soon as June 2014.

Attorneys for defendant Mark Leonard have told the judge they may need an additional year to defend their client because of the complexity of the case and lack of physical evidence in hand.

“Well, this case, you’re looking at a potential, from the state’s perspective, 150 witnesses,” said Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson. “Boxes of discovery, so it’s a significant trial, there’s no doubt about it.”

Robinson has also filed a motion to reveal wiretap evidence investigators gathered against Leonard, his girlfriend Moncie Shirley and his half-brother Robert.

“A title 3 search warrant is a wiretap, basically, for lack of a better term,” said Robinson. “We can’t disclose it to the defense or talk about it without it being published.”

While Robinson can’t comment on the content of the recorded conversations, a source tells Fox 59 News that the tapes are “very damaging,” though they focus on attempts by the defendants to boost each others’ morale and make sure their stories match up when told to investigators.

Shirley’s attorney, James Voyles, told the court he may still file to separate his client’s case away from the Leonard brothers. Such a move could lead to a plea agreement with Shirley and a promise to testify against her co-defendants.

Robinson expects the trial to last up to seven weeks in front of a jury bused to Indianapolis from an outside county to hear evidence.

Neighbors from the Richmond Hill community who attended the hearing said they’re still healing and waiting for the case to work its way through the justice system.

“It just takes time,” said Abby Jackson. “God willing. I just pray for justice to be served.”

“I can look out my door now and I see a house being built,” said Roz Aldridge. “The siding was being put on today at Fieldfare and Tohees so that was good.”

The Leonards and Shirley are accused of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, arson and murder for the explosion that leveled the Shirley home on Fieldfare Way last November 10th, killing Dion and Jennifer Longworth and damaging dozens of other homes.

They are all due back in court June 21.

“I’m just angry,” said Aldridge. “That’s okay. They look terrible in orange.”

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