June trial date cancelled in Richmond Hill case

Monserrate Shirley, Mark Leonard, Bob Leonard, left to right. (Provided photos / Marion County Jail)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The trials for three suspects accused of setting an explosion inside a home in the Richmond Hill neighborhood will not be held as scheduled this June.

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 November 2012 explosion on the city’s south side. Earlier this month, their attorneys asked for more time to prepare their cases before trial.

That request was granted Wednesday by Judge Sheila Carlisle, who “vacated” the scheduled June 16 start date for each of the three trials. No new trial dates were set Wednesday.

In October, Judge Sheila Carlisle granted a request from defense attorneys to sever the cases, allowing each suspect to be tried separately. She also denied a later request from prosecutors to hold those separate trials at the same time, in the same courtroom, but with three different juries.

In court documents filed earlier this month, Mark Leonard’s public defender Deana Martin wrote that delays in the sharing of forensic testing results have made “a realistic trial date of April 2015 if all of the reports and their supporting documentation are discovered by March 5, 2014.”

Bob Leonard’s attorney, Ted Minch, wrote that he also would “not be ready to try this case as currently set.” Shirley’s attorney, Jim Voyles, said that he was unable to suggest an alternative start date for the trial because so much evidence sharing remained ahead.

Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson told the judge she believed a “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 Friday. That hearing was cancelled Wednesday following the court filings.

No new pre-trial hearing date was set, though Carlisle agreed to extend the filing deadline in the case, known as an omnibus date, until June 3.

She also agreed to hold a hearing “at a later date” on requests from all three defense attorneys to move the case out of Marion County or have an outside jury brought in for the trials.

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