FT. WAYNE, Ind. (Feb. 17, 2016) — At 11:11 a.m. Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson stood to face Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull and announced, “At this time, the State of Indiana rests its case.”
With that pronouncement, prosecutors and investigators indicated they had done all they can to convince a Fort Wayne jury that Bob Leonard Jr. was guilty of plotting and carrying out the murderous Richmond Hill explosion that leveled parts of a south side Indianapolis neighborhood in 2012 and took the lives of a young couple in pursuit of an insurance fraud payoff.
Prosecutors claim not only was Leonard in on the refinement of the plan with his half-brother Mark Leonard to fill Monserrate Shirley’s house with natural gas, but he triggered the explosion that rocked the city and left behind more than $4 million in insurance losses.
Jennifer and Dion Longworth, Shirley’s neighbors on Fieldfare Way, were killed.
The final witness to take the stand was IMPD Homicide Detective Jeff Wager who vouched for the testimony given Tuesday by jailhouse informant Jeremy Bullock.
Bullock told jurors that he spent time in a Marion County Jail cell with Leonard, who has been locked up since Christmas of 2012, and the defendant drew him a diagram of Shirley’s house and explained how the explosion was planned.
Wager testified that specific details regarding the layoff of the house, alterations made to a gas water heater and fireplace, witness accounts, planning conversations, missing furniture, location of the neighborhood and a nearby fire station, the opening of gas valves, an option to set off the explosion and the location of vehicles were not commonly known by the public and could only have been revealed by investigators or someone with firsthand knowledge of the tragedy.
Some of those details were previously reported by FOX59.
“Bob Leonard was charged in this case long before we had any of that information so we believed we had sufficient evidence to take this case to trial,” said Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson. “Some of that, some of his words, some of the conversations, some of the observations of him, telephone calls, that sort of thing.”
Upon cross-examination, Leonard’s attorneys explored Wager’s attempts to confirm alibis for other men whose names surfaced in the investigation. Wager admitted that one neighbor could not definitively identify Bob Leonard as one of two men who he spotted driving Mark Leonard’s white Ford van at Shirley’s house the day of the explosion, however, Bullock testified that Leonard told him in jail that he sent two men on a “dummy mission” to the Richmond Hill community several hours before the blast, which was set to go off at approximately 11 p.m.
One of the final witnesses in the State’s case was a DNA analyst from the Marion County crime lab who linked Leonard’s DNA to the front door of Shirley’s home and to the white van.
“I think the key to that type of evidence is that, number one, not only is it direct evidence against the defendant, but secondly, it corroborates the information provided by witnesses, no matter where those witnesses come from, and that’s what we’ll be asking the jury to assess,” said Robinson.
When court reconvenes Friday morning, the defense may call up to three witnesses before resting.
Jurors could receive this case as soon as next Tuesday afternoon.