Change of venue requests in Richmond Hill trials

Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard (left to right) (Photos provided/Marion County Jail)
Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard (left to right) (Photos provided/Marion County Jail)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A series of year-old legal requests filed in the 2012 house explosion at Richmond Hill are now set to be heard by a judge in July. Those requests include motions to move the trials out of Marion County, or have an outside jury brought in.

Judge Sheila Carlisle had set aside the third week in July to hear evidence on a series of motions filed by defense attorneys in the case. Last week, Carlisle agreed to push those hearings back an additional week until the fourth week of July, according to court records obtained by I-Team 8.

Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard, Jr. are each accused of more than 50 counts of arson and two counts of murder in connection with the November 2012 explosion on the city’s south side.

In March, their attorneys asked for more time to prepare their cases before trial. Carlisle agreed to “vacate” the scheduled June 16 start date for each of the three trials. No new trial dates have been set.

Among the requests are “change of venue” filings due to what defense attorneys last year cited as “extensive pre-trial publicity” of the case.

In October, Judge Carlisle granted a request from defense attorneys to sever the cases, allowing each suspect to be tried separately. She also denied a later request from prosecutors to hold those separate trials at the same time, in the same courtroom, but with three different juries.

Those trials could now be scheduled following July’s motions hearings.

In court documents filed in March, Mark Leonard’s public defender Deana Martin wrote that delays in the sharing of forensic testing results have made “a realistic trial date of April 2015.”

Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson told the judge she believed a “realistic start date for the first scheduled trial would be some time in August or September 2014.”

Carlisle also agreed this month to extend the filing deadline in the case, known as an omnibus date, until June 23.

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