Richmond Hill trial: Mark Leonard found GUILTY on all counts

Mark Leonard
Richmond Hill trial: Mark Leonard found GUILTY on all counts
Richmond Hill trial: Mark Leonard found GUILTY on all counts
Richmond Hill trial: Mark Leonard found GUILTY on all counts
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Mark Leonard charges
Published:
Updated:

Jurors convicted Mark Leonard Tuesday afternoon on all 53 counts against him.

  • Counts 1-2: Felony Murder (murder while committing or attempting to commit another felony, in this case Arson)
  • Counts 3-4: Conspiracy to Commit Arson
  • Counts 5-16: Arson, Class A Felony (12 counts)
  • Counts 17-50: Arson, Class B Felony (34 counts)
  • Count 51: Conspiracy to Commit Insurance Fraud, Class C Felony
  • Counts 52-53: Knowing Murder (death occurred with defendant knowing it was possible
    • Because these came back as guilty, Leonard is still eligible for life without parole.
  • Click here for a more detailed explanation of the charges

Testimony lasted 19 days. The jury took only 2.5 hours to reach their verdict.

Life without parole

Prosecutors have asked for a sentencing enhancement that would allow them to seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Now that he has been found guilty on the final two counts of "knowing murder," Judge Marnocha has two questions before him:

  1. Does he grant defense motions they plan to file claiming Leonard's constitutional rights were violated during trial to the extent that life without parole should not be allowed?
  2. If not, does he sentence Leonard to life without parole?

Normally the second question would be left to the jury as well, but Leonard on Tuesday morning waived his right to have a jury in the sentencing phase.

Looking ahead

The sentencing phase will not begin until Wednesday morning so attorneys have time to prepare for the hearing surrounding the defense's claims regarding life without parole.

Defense attorneys claim prosecutors did not meet the full burden of proof needed for a life without parole sentence. They said that is why they advised Leonard wave his right to have the jury decide the sentence - they believe Judge Marnocha will more easily follow along with their legal and constitutional argument during Wednesday's hearing.

Only the life without parole portion of Leonard's sentence will be decided at this point. The remainder of his sentence will be handed down in a future hearing. Judge Marnocha is expected to announce the schedule for that final piece at Wednesday's hearing. Prosecutors told Eyewitness News it will likely be in August.

Case background

Leonard is the now-convicted ringleader of the plot to destroy Monserrate Shirley's home to cash-in on the $300,000 insurance policy. The explosion killed two people, Dion and Jennifer Longworth, and did more than $4 million in damage, destroying more than 3 dozen homes and damaging more than 70 others.

Monserrate Shirley pleaded guilty to her charges in exchange for taking life without parole off the table. She will not be sentenced at all until all four of the other suspects have been tried. A judge will then sentence her to 20-50 years in prison, and some or all of that could be suspended meaning she could go home as soon as the other trials are complete.

Bob Leonard's trial has already been announced as the next in line. It will be held in Fort Wayne.

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