The three suspects in the Nov. 10, 2012, deadly explosion on Indianapolis’ south side will have separate trials, a judge ruled on Thursday, Oct. 17, according to WRTV-6.
Suspects Monserrate Shirley and Mark Ray Leonard had requested separate trials, while the third suspect, Leonard’s brother Robert Leonard, did not request a separate trial. However, he will be tried separately by default due to the requests.
In an order issued Thursday, Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle wrote “a separate trial is necessary to promote a fair determination of guilt or innocence of the Defendant.”
The three are charged in connection with the deadly Nov 10, 2012 explosion that killed a couple who lived next door, destroying five homes, and damaging countless other homes. They were arrested and have been incarcerated since December and are facing two counts of murder, one count of conspiracy to commit arson, 33 counts of arson, a Class B felony, and 12 counts of arson, a Class A felony.
According to WRTV-6, prosecutors claim the three plotted to fill the couple’s home with natural gas and ignite an explosion using a microwave timer. The explosion killed neighbors John and Jennifer Longworth, completely leveled five homes and caused widespread damage to houses throughout the neighborhood. The damage is estimated to be over $4 million.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told WRTV-6 that this ruling could push the trial dates further back.
"We were looking at a possible trial date of the middle of next year, and I think the parties weren't sure how realistic that was to begin with," Curry said.
However, the process is already suspected to be lengthy as requests for change of venue are pending to move the trials out of Marion County.