Richmond Hill house explosion suspects can be tried separately

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INDIANAPOLIS – The suspects in last year’s deadly house explosion on the south side can have separate trials, a court ruled.

Moncy Shirley and Mark Leonard will be permitted to be tried individually, a judge ruled Thursday. The lawyers for both defendants had requested separate trials following the Nov. 10 house explosion that killed two people and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes.

A third suspect—Leonard’s half-brother Bob Leonard—did not request a separate trial, but will be tried individually by default.

In August, Shirley argued she was a victim of Mark Leonard’s abuse and manipulation and had no knowledge of his alleged insurance scheme to blow up her home and collect $300,000 in a settlement and therefore should not be tried by his side.

Mark Leonard himself filed for severance two weeks later, claiming he and Shirley would mount “antagonistic defenses” against each other, indicating they could potentially blame one other for the blast.

The motion indicated that Leonard’s defense will be “there is no proof that the explosion was not accidental” while Shirley’s defense will allege “the evil Leonard brothers committed these acts to gain a windfall from insurance proceeds and Shirley knew nothing about their plan.”

“(A)llowing Mark Leonard’s jury to hear a litany of dirty deeds and uncharged misconduct substantially impinges and unfairly prejudices his right to a fair trial,” read the motion filed by Leonard’s attorneys.

Their next court date is scheduled for Dec. 4.

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