UPDATE: Mark Leonard sentenced to 50 years in murder-for-hire plot

Mark Leonard walks to court Wednesday morning to hear his sentence in a murder-for-hire plot.
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The convicted mastermind in the deadly south side explosion was sentenced to the maximum 50 years for a murder-for-hire plot Wednesday.

A judge had already sentenced Mark Leonard to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus another 75 years. The additional 50 years just added on came after his conviction for trying to hire someone to kill a key witness in his first trial. That hit man was actually an undercover ATF agent who wound up testifying against him.

Judge Sheila Carlisle issued the 50 year maximum sentence to Leonard Wednesday on the conspiracy to commit murder charge. The hearing lasted about 30 minutes as prosecutors and the defense spoke before the sentence came down.

Judge Carlisle listed several factors for her decision, most notably Leonard's criminal history, which starts at the age of 18, leading all the way up to orchestrating the 2012 Richmond Hill blast and trying to hire a hit man for $15,000 to kill a witness against him in the explosion case.

A jailed police informant alerted police to Leonard's plans to hire a hit man and helped arrange the phone call with the undercover agent.

Police say Leonard wanted to kill Mark Duckworth, a friend he had bragged to about blowing up the house and collecting $300,000 in insurance money. Investigators say that Leonard also told Duckworth of plans to buy a Ferrari.

This was the last case in the Richmond Hill and Mark Leonard saga.

“I believe this is the appropriate conclusion to the cases that have been going on for the past four years. This has been a drawn out effort and the prosecutor’s office believes the community has reached the right resolution here by sentencing Mark Leonard. We believe this is the appropriate conclusion to the case,” said Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Lucas Niekamp.

“As the final step in the justice process concludes against Mark Leonard, the families of Jennifer and Dion Longworth, the residents of Richmond Hill, and all others affected by the explosion case can move forward from this senseless criminal act,” Prosecutor Terry Curry added in a written statement. “Justice has been served, as pledged from day one on behalf of the Richmond Hill residents.”

When prosecutors first announced they were taking this case to trial, some were confused by the move because he'd already been given two life sentences. They said not taking the murder-for-hire plot to trial could have made an appeals court more likely to grant his appeals on the original convictions.

"Conspiracy to commit murder was admitted as evidence in the life without parole case. To dismiss it might sent a message we don't believe in the integrity of that case," explained deputy prosecutor Denise Robinson. "That is something we don't want to do."

The judge ordered Leonard's new sentence to be served concurrently with his others.

In court Wednesday, Leonard said he plans to appeal the ruling.