Richmond Hill trial: Mark Duckworth testifies

Mark Leonard

A former close friend who became the target of an alleged murder-for-hire plot testified Monday against Mark Leonard in his murder trial.     

Jurors heard from Mark Duckworth, a key witness against Leonard, the man prosecutors say masterminded the Indianapolis south side explosion. Leonard is on trial in St Joseph County because of pre-trial publicity here.

Mark Duckworth left court not wanting to say much more than he did from the witness stand. Duckworth told jurors he and Mark Leonard were friends for about 20 years.  They often worked for each other.  Three days before the deadly explosion, they talked on the phone. 

See all stories, video and documents on the Richmond Hill explosion and trial.

"He (Leonard) stated he was looking for a Ferrari online. I asked how come. He couldn't afford a Ferrari," said Duckworth.

Then Duckworth testified he asked Leonard, "Where did you get the money to buy a Ferrari?" Leonard reportedly replied, "The tsunami winds blew out the fireplace and the house blew up" and that Leonard planned on getting $300,000.

A day or two later, the friends talked again, with Duckworth testifying "He stated he made it all up.  He was kidding."

The explosion obliterated the home Leonard shared with Monserrate Shirley, shattered the neighborhood and killed neighbors Jennifer and Dion Longworth.  Prosecutors are trying to prove he was the ringleader of a five-person plot to cash in on the insurance coverage.

Justin Leonard testified his father, accused co-conspirator Bob Leonard, had him store boxes of possessions he was told the couple salvaged from the fire.  Investigators contend they were removed from the house before the explosion.   

See all stories, video and documents on the Richmond Hill explosion and trial.

When Leonard learned Duckworth was talking to police, prosecutors say he tried to have Duckworth killed.  Last week jurors heard his recorded call to an ATF agent posing at a hit man, and saw a map Leonard drew that provided information and directions to Duckworth.

Prosecutor Denise Robinson asked, "Where you and Mark Leonard friends? Duckworth replied, "I thought we were."

This is expected to be the final week of testimony. Up until this point, Judge John Marnocha has avoided hearing testimony on Fridays, but said if Friday testimony is needed to make sure the last of the witnesses gets called this week, he will schedule it.

If that timeline holds, deliberations could begin as early as next Monday.

Leonard is charged with 53 counts of murder, arson and conspiracy. He faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.