Richmond Hill explosion case trial likely for June 2014
The three people facing charges in the south side explosion case won't go on trial until at least June 2014.
The attorneys for Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard discussed a potential trial date during a hearing Wednesday afternoon.
Dion and Jennifer Longworth died in the blast. They were Shirley and Leonard's next-door neighbors. Over 30 homes had to be demolished and dozens of other homes had significant damage.
Also Wednesday, a judge unsealed search warrants in the case.
Those documents detail what police were looking to examine at the explosion site in the Richmond Hill neighborhood and what they wanted to learn about the suspects' actions.
One of the search warrants requested incoming and outgoing calls and texts for both Shirley and Mark Leonard from November first through November 12th.
Another requested all appliances, from the furnace to the fireplace to the microwave in Shirley's destroyed home.
There was a search warrant for financial paperwork found in the rubble there, including checkbooks, bank statements and credit card bills.
Then at Bob Leonard's Home, there was a search for golf clubs, plus boxes of family photos, jewelry and clothes that belonged to Moncy Shirley.
The documents also reveal that a neighbor said that David Gill, Mark Leonard's long-time friend, may have been the man in the white van seen in front of Shirley's house the day of the explosion.
Meanwhile in court today, we learned a trial won't likely begin until June 2014.
For an explosion that took only seconds to end lives and destroy homes, the long process to decide criminal responsibility is in stark contrast.
The slow, complicated case has neighbors in Richmond Hill feeling frustrated.
"We learned nothing today," said Richmond Hill resident Roz Aldridge.
"It is frustrating, but like she said, we knew it was going to take awhile," added resident Abby Jackson.
The judge and attorneys agreed a trial date likely won't happen until June of 2014, more than a year from now.
A specific date has yet to be set.
"We want to try this case well. We want to try it successfully. We want to try it once," said Marion County deputy prosecutor Denise Robinson. "From the state's perspective, 150 witnesses, boxes of discovery and so it's a significant trial. there's no question about it."
The three suspects, accused of setting the explosion to collect insurance money, were all back in court for a pre-trial hearing Wednesday.
One of the key motions from prosecutors concerned unsealing and making public warrants on wire taps, which contain critical conversations in the case.
But the judge didn't make a ruling on that evidence. Instead, she deferred to the original judge who issued the warrants.
Also, there was no decision today on the suspects' request to drop life without parole sentences. But the judge did order approximately 22 search warrants to be unsealed.
Many were sent out Wednesday. The remaining warrants will be released Thursday.
Time is a big issue in this case - time to examine evidence and prepare for trial.
In court, Mark Leonard's defense attorney said she hasn't seen any evidence yet from the crime lab.
"There's a significant amount of crime lab testing. It takes time to conduct that testing. It doesn't work like CSI," Robinson said.
However long this process takes, Richmond Hill residents who experienced the explosion say they'll be in court for every step, hoping for justice as they continue to rebuild.
"I just think I needed to be here. It changed my life. This changed my life," Aldridge said.
Leonard was recently charged with conspiring to arrange for a key witness in the trial to be murdered. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.
Also, prosecutors released more documents related to the case Wednesday: