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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. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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