SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A man accused of blowing up his Indianapolis home for the insurance money, killing two neighbors and devastating a neighborhood in the process, told a former friend some days before the explosion that his house had blown up and that he wanted to buy a luxury car, the ex-friend testified Monday.
Mark Duckworth said Mark Leonard told him that strong winds had caused the explosion, but that the story didn’t ring true.
“How could he afford a Ferrari?” Duckworth said in St. Joseph Superior Court in South Bend. “He said the tsunami winds blew out the fireplace, blowing up the house, and (that) they were getting $300,000.”
Also, it was unusual that Leonard was using the fireplace during an unusually balmy November 2012.
“I wondered why you would run the fireplace when it was warm out,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth said he called Leonard two days later to see how he was doing and Leonard told him he had made up the explosion story and was “kidding.”
Then Duckworth said he saw on the news on Nov. 10, 2012, that the house Leonard shared with Monserrate Shirley had exploded. He said he had felt the explosion at his trailer about five miles away.
He testified that he texted Leonard the next day. “Saw u made the news last night,” the message read.
Duckworth said he never heard from Leonard again, saying he had been a frequent visitor to the house and testified he had visited Leonard every other day when he was critically ill in the hospital before the explosion, even when he was in a coma.
Duckworth says he then left a phone message for his father, a retired Indianapolis police officer, saying he was concerned for his life because he knew too much. He said police later told him that Leonard had made plans to have him killed.
Jailhouse informant Robert Smith testified on Thursday about Leonard’s plan to hire a hit man to kill Duckworth.
Also Monday, Leonard’s nephew, Justin Leonard, testified that his father asked him to store some items they had managed to “salvage” after the explosion, including family photos, knickknacks, financial records and golf clubs. Previous witnesses testified the contents of the house were blown into pieces.
Prosecutors say Leonard was the mastermind behind the plot to burn the house and collect insurance money to pay off gambling debts and other expenses. John “Dion” Longworth, and his wife Jennifer were killed by the explosion.
Leonard, 46, is charged with murder, arson, conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson told Judge John Marnocha the state plans to rest its case on Wednesday. Leonard’s attorney, David Shircliff, said the defense could rest its case by lunch Thursday.