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Venue change granted for Indy house blast suspect

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A judge granted a change of venue Wednesday for the trial of one defendant in a deadly Indianapolis house explosion after prosecutors dropped their objection.

Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle granted the request for Mark Leonard, who faces murder, arson and conspiracy charges in connection with the November 2012 blast that killed two people and destroyed or damaged dozens of houses on the city's south side.

Deana Martin and Diane Black, the public defenders appointed to represent Leonard, had introduced stories from Indianapolis television stations and The Indianapolis Star as evidence of the media saturation they say would make it hard to assemble an impartial jury.

Prosecutors stipulated to the change of venue Wednesday on the third day of a hearing on the venue request. Carlisle had taken the unusual step of assembling test juries to gauge the public's knowledge about the case.

"Virtually everyone is aware of the circumstances," Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said after Carlisle granted the change.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Leonard's trial would be moved to another county or a jury imported to Indianapolis. It also was unclear whether venue also would change for the two other defendants, Leonard's former girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, and his brother, Bob Leonard. Each defendant will be being tried separately on identical charges.

Prosecutors have said the three rigged the blast in Shirley's home as part of a scheme to collect $300,000 in insurance. The explosion killed a married couple who were neighbors of Shirley.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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