Shirley sentenced to 50 years for role in deadly Richmond Hill explosion

Monserrate Shirley (Photo Provided)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Another suspect in the fatal 2012 Richmond Hill explosion received their sentence Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Monserrate Shirley was sentenced to 50 years, the maximum that she could have received.

The blast took the lives of Dion and Jennifer Longworth, and destroyed more than 80 homes. Prosecutors say the blast started with a scheme to get insurance money. Shirley lived in the home where the explosion happened. She would later confess that her boyfriend Mark Leonard had developed an elaborate plan to blow up her home to collect insurance money. Shirley testified against Mark, and his brother Bob Leonard. Both brothers were later sentenced to life in prison.

Shirley admitted to being part of the planning process, but she did not rig the devices.

As part of a deal for testifying and admitting her role she was facing between 20 and 50 years in prison or she could have had her sentence suspended all together. Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson asked for the maximum. During the two day hearing more than 15 Richmond Hill residents took the stand. Many of those residents asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence as well. The judge heard testimony from an investigator with the Indianapolis Fire Department, Indianapolis homicide detective, a psychologist and even one of Shirley’s sisters.

Just before the closing arguments Shirley addressed the courtroom.

“I’m sorry I caused so much pain,” said Monserrate Shirley.

During a tearful apology, Shirley mentioned the names of the victims and openly admitted her faults. Shirley’s defense asked the judge not to forget that Shirley testified against her partners Mark and Bob Leonard at their trials.

Shortly after the hearing was over, John Longworth, whose son Dion Longworth died in the explosion reacted to Shirley’s apology.

“Well it is what I expected her to be doing if she is going to say something, I don’t believe in vengeance, and my son is not someone who will accept vengeance, he didn’t live that way,” said Longworth.

Despite Shirley’s cooperation with the prosecution, Judge Sheila Carlisle made it clear that the explosion would not have happened if it wasn’t for Monserrate Shirley.

A judge gave Shirley credit for time served, and with good behavior she may have to serve just 21 years of the 50 year sentence. If that is the case, Shirley will be 71, when she is released.

 Another individual in the case, Glenn Hults, is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 28 for his role.