EXCLUSIVE: Mark Leonard juror speaks on Richmond Hill trial


Six men and six women needed only three hours to reach a verdict in a criminal trial that lasted six weeks.

One of those jurors spoke with Eyewitness News on the condition we don't reveal his identity.

He said the jury's decision was quick -- but not easy.

"We definitely didn't take anything of it lightly," said the juror. "We didn't just say 'Take a vote and go,' we discussed every single one of them to make sure we weren't missing anything, to make sure we were making the right decision."

The most difficult debate among jurors, he said, was deciding whether the deaths of Jennifer and Dion Longworth were reckless homicide or the more serious crime of "knowing murder."

"It came down to common sense: 'knowing' meant that there could be someone killed, so if you create a bomb, you would know that a bomb could kill someone."

Mark Leonard, jurors found, led the plot to destroy Monserrate Shirley's home to cash in on a $300,000 insurance policy.

"I was a little surprised how natural and devoid of emotion he seemed throughout the whole thing," the juror said of Leonard's demeanor during the trial - even when pictures of murder victims Dion and Jennifer Longworth were shown in court. "I was waiting for a reaction, but it just seemed kinda like he was trying not to show any emotion. And I didn't see anything."

Prosecutors presented 2,200 pieces of evidence and testimony from 170 witnesses.

"It almost seems like it should have been overwhelming, but it turned out to be relatively easy."

No one piece of evidence decided the case. He said a whole bunch of pieces came together for jurors, like a puzzle.

What did they think of Monserrate Shirley turning on her ex boyfriend and testifying against him?

"I think she was important. It was great to see that that side of the story, but I don't think it was critical. I think they probably could have still had the same outcome without her."

The outcome was a relief to victims of the Richmond Hill explosion

"One of the neighbors or parents - someone influenced by the explosion - had thanked us as we were leaving. It was kind of a surreal feeling to be thanked for essentially sending someone to prison for the rest of their life. It was unusual, something I never felt before."

The juror said they simply followed the evidence, the law and the judge's instructions. He also said their verdict wouldn't have been different had they known Leonard could be sentenced to life without parole.

With the trial over, jurors are keeping a low profile. They heard evidence of how Mark Leonard, from his jail cell, tried to have a witness killed. Now, they are concerned for their own safety.

Leonard returns to court August 14 for his final sentencing hearing.