INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – An Indianapolis man charged with plotting an explosion that killed two people and destroyed more than 30 homes in Indianapolis on Wednesday asked a judge to halt the case until the Indiana Court of Appeals can rule on a key issue.
Mark Leonard’s request to be tried separately from his girlfriend and his older brother was another issue that came up during a court hearing Wednesday in a Marion County court.
Leonard is the second defendant to ask for a separate trial. Monserrate Shirley, whose home was destroyed by a gas blast on Nov. 10, also has asked to be tried individually.
Deana Martin, Leonard’s public defender, says in court documents that prosecutors didn’t properly file the charges against him and he therefore can’t be sentenced to life without parole, as prosecutors have requested, if he’s convicted of murder and arson. Prosecutors allege Shirley, Mark Leonard, and his brother Bob Leonard plotted the explosion to collect insurance on Shirley’s home.
Leonard says Marion County Judge Sheila Carlisle erred by allowing prosecutors to change the original charges of felony murder, a lesser charge, to “knowing” murder. The document says those later charges “are not supported by the facts.”
The motion says he wasn’t present when the house exploded and there is no evidence to show that he or the others were aware the blast would kill anyone. The document also says defendants shouldn’t face the most severe penalties “simply based on a great deal of media coverage or community anger.”
The fiery blast killed Shirley’s next-door neighbors, John Dion Longworth, 34, and his wife, Jennifer Longworth, 36. The two homes were leveled and 33 were damaged so severely they had to be demolished.
The decision whether to relay the case directly to the Court of Appeals is up to Carlisle, said Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.
In his motion for separate trial, Mark Leonard argues that he would be denied his constitutional right to cross-examine his co-defendants if statements that they made incriminating him are admitted as evidence at the trial, which isn’t expected to be held before next summer.
“There will be antagonistic defenses,” Martin wrote in the motion filed Wednesday.
The three defendants appeared in quick successive proceedings Wednesday. All three wore shackles and orange jail jumpsuits.
Abby Jackson, a friend of Shirley’s whose home was also destroyed in the explosion, told reporters after the hearing that she never saw any sign that Mark Leonard was controlling Shirley as Shirley claimed in court documents, but she added that she did not think Shirley would have admitted she was being abused.
“She told me Mark was taking care of her,” Jackson said. “She never admitted any of that,” she added.
Jackson said she had been close to Shirley for nine years.
“I also know a neighborhood was turned upside down and there people who are gone, and I pray for mercy,” Jackson said.
Attorneys for the three defendants didn’t return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking additional comment Wednesday.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Dec. 4.
Follow Charles Wilson on Twitter:
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon