Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has decided to request life sentences without parole, instead of the death penalty, for the three defendants charged in the Richmond Hill subdivision explosion.
The defendants, Mark Leonard, Monserrate Shirley and Bob Leonard Jr., have been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of John and Jennifer Longworth in connection with the explosion that occurred on Nov. 10, 2012, in the Richmond Hill subdivision on the south side of Indianapolis.
Investigators allege that the three defendants purposefully rigged Shirley’s residence at 8349 Fieldfare Way to fill with natural gas then explode and burn in order to collect insurance money. However, the house ignited a massive explosion and the resulting fire spread to the Longworths’ home next door causing their deaths.
Curry said the decision to request life rather than capital punishment was made after thoughtful consideration.
“The intentional acts of the defendants, as alleged, were undertaken with no regard whatsoever to the tragic consequences which did in fact flow from a scheme to blow up the Shirley residence,” the prosecutor stated in a press release. “Those alleged acts, if proven, thus justify that the defendants spend life in prison with no option for parole.”
In the state’s request for life sentence without parole, the alleged aggravating circumstances are that the murders were committed by the unlawful detonation of an explosive device, that there were multiple deaths, and that John Longworth died as a result of direct contact with the fire.
In addition to murder, the three defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit arson, a Class A felony; 12 counts of arson, a Class A felony; and 33 counts of arson, a Class B felony.
Mark Leonard and Shirley are each charged with an additional count of conspiracy to commit arson, a Class B felony.
The state is also moving to add an additional count of arson, a Class B felony, against all three defendants for damage to houses in the Richmond Hill subdivision which do not require demolition. Further, the state is moving to add an additional charge of insurance fraud, a Class C felony, against Shirley and an additional charge of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, a Class C felony, against Shirley and Mark Leonard.
The defendants are scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial conference at 10 a.m. Feb. 21.