Judge orders Leonard to be moved to cell similar to one he had during trial

Mark Leonard is walked into a courtroom. (WISH Photo)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WISH) — A St. Joseph County judge has issued a ruling asking that Mark Leonard be transferred to a cell similar to the cell he was in during his trial.

That’s after Leonard’s attorneys filed an emergency petition with the court claiming he’d been in “inhumane” conditions in jail.

Leonard was convicted in July of 53 counts in connection to the deadly Richmond Hill explosion in 2012.

The order, signed by the St Joseph County judge, says the jail should move Leonard, unless a psychological evaluation recommends differently.

The judge’s order says Leonard should have access to standard inmate clothing and shower facilities. It adds that the Sheriff’s Department and the jail warden are permitted to take any steps necessary to protect themselves and other inmates, as long as they inform the court.

Leonard’s defense attorneys emergency petition Tuesday had asked the St. Joseph County Jail warden to “immediately cease subjecting the defendant to the inhumane conditions imposed by his 22 day confinement in a padded ‘suicide prevention’ cell and ‘side cell.’” Documents show attorneys claim Leonard was in a suicide prevention cell for four days before being moved to a steel side cell.

According to the court documents, attorneys claim Leonard was held in a padded cell, with a “thick-walled smock” to wear, for several days after his conviction, for purposes of suicide prevention. The documents allege Leonard was made to “relieve himself in a small hole within his cell.” Several days later, defense attorneys say jail deputies transferred Leonard from the suicide prevention padded cell, to a steel “side cell.” Documents claim Leonard was then forced to sleep on a cold steel table, “naked with only the thick-walled smock to cover his body.” Documents say Leonard was not allowed to shower for 16 days.

Defense attorneys said Leonard denied suicidal thoughts when questioned by jail staff, and also denied suicidal thoughts when a mental health professional visited with him.

“It’s my understanding that the jail would take precautions, and have him see a psychiatrist, and determine whether or not since he’s been convicted, his mental state has changed,” said defense attorney David Shircliff. “Once they determine it hasn’t changed, there’s no reason to believe that the jail wouldn’t be safe and secure, by housing him the way they were housing him prior to being convicted.”

Shircliff said when he went to speak to the jail warden about it, he was told Leonard was in that room for “safety and security.”

“There’s no indication he’s been a threat to anyone, including himself or anyone else in the jail,” added Shircliff. “The jail’s given us no indication that his behavior has caused danger to anyone, and there’s no indication that the jail wasn’t safe and secure when he was in a regular segregation cell prior to him being convicted.”

The motion filed by Leonard’s attorney sought to have the jail ordered to “immediately release Leonard from the steel ‘side cell,’ to return him to his prior segregation cell” and other related changes to his treatment.

Experts tell 24-Hour News 8 after a conviction that carries the potential of life without parole, it is not unusual to segregate the defendant.

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