Richmond Hill trials may be delayed

Monserrate Shirley
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Updated: .

A Marion County judge will now consider delaying the trials of the three suspects in the Richmond Hill neighborhood explosion. The first of the trials is currently scheduled to start @June 16, but prosecutors want to push that back at least a couple of months.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office told the court that the earliest "realistic" start date is August or September.@

Late last year, Judge Shelia Carlisle agreed to sever the cases and last month she decided that the trials would run separately, not at the same time.@

Homeowner Monserrate Shirley, her boyfriend Mark Leonard and his brother Bob Leonard are accused of planning to blow up her south side home as part of an insurance fraud plot.

Prosecutors say the suspects tampered with a gas line and used the microwave as a trigger.@@

When the house exploded the night of November 10, 2012, the blast killed two people - neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth.@The explosion destroyed approximately 30 homes and damaged about 100 others.

The suspects are each accused of more than 50 counts of murder, arson and insurance fraud.

Mark Leonard is expected to face trial first, followed by Shirley, then Bob Leonard.

Prosecutors estimate each trial could take six weeks and involve hundreds of witnesses. Defense attorneys are still deposing witnesses, including Richmond Hill residents and first responders.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 21.