Court docs: Richmond Hill trials could be delayed until 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Another set of delays appears likely in the trials of the three suspects accused of blowing up a house in 2012 at Richmond Hill. New court filings suggest opening arguments could now be more than a year away.

Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard and Bob Leonard, Jr. are each accused of more than 50 counts of arson and two counts of murder in connection with the explosion on the city’s south side.

In October, Judge Sheila Carlisle granted a request from their defense attorneys to sever their cases, allowing each to be tried separately. Prosecutors appealed that decision, asking for each of the suspects separate trials to be held at the same time, in the same courtroom, but with three different juries.

Judge Carlisle denied that request, saying it could interfere with the suspects’ rights to a fair trial. http://wishtv.com/2014/02/03/judge-richmond-hill-suspects-to-get-separate-trials/

Because of that ruling allowing full separation, and the fact that each case is estimated to take six weeks or more to try, Judge Carlisle asked both defense attorneys and prosecutors to estimate whether they would still be ready to begin the trials as scheduled, starting with Mark Leonard on June 16, 2014

In court documents filed Friday, and obtained by I-Team 8, Mark Leonard’s public defender Deana Martin writes that she is still waiting on forensic testing results to be shared by prosecutors.

“Defense has still not received any notes, analysis, results, reports, or calculations…despite making several requests including through motions for specific discovery,” Martin wrote. “Based on the need for Mr. Leonard’s team to have thorough review of the forensic reports and computer modeling and all of the supporting documentation in order to perform similar testing for the purposes of determining if the conclusions are accurate, Mark Leonard believes that a realistic trial date is April 2015 if all of the reports and their supporting documentation are discovered by March 5, 2014.”

Bob Leonard’s attorney, Ted Minch, said he is also continuing to interview more than 200 witnesses who could be called in the case, and recently added a new attorney to his legal team, who is still “coming up to speed.”

“While diligent trial preparation in this matter is continuing and ongoing, counsel for Robert Leonard will not be ready to try this case as currently set,” Minch wrote in his filing. “At this time, in light of the ongoing discovery depositions and discovery exchange, [we] are unable to suggest an alternative date.”

It’s unlikely prosecutors will take issue with the proposed delays.

In a court filing made by Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson, prosecutors note that some forensic testing remains to be completed in the case, though most of its witnesses interviews are completed.

“[But], the State has yet to receive discovery from any defendant,” Robinson wrote. “The State believes a more realistic start date for the first scheduled trial would be some time in August or September 2014.”

Ultimately, Judge Carlisle is tasked with setting final trial dates. That was expected to occur at a pre-trial conference hearing set for Wednesday, but that hearing was cancelled late last week following the court filings.

All three suspects are now scheduled to be back in court on March 21st.

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