SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 22, 2015)-- The trial for lead Richmond Hill suspect Mark Leonard is now in its third week.The first two weeks focused on personal testimony from neighbors who were impacted by the 2012 blast that rocked the Richmond Hill subdivision.
The explosion killed two neighbors, leveled roughly 80 homes and caused over $4 million in damages.
Leonard is accused of creating a plan to level girlfriend Monserrate Shirley’s south side Indianapolis house in pursuit of a $300,000 home insurance settlement along with his half-brother Bob Leonard Jr.
Prosecutors will rely on state investigators to outline the six-week long investigation that ended with over 50 charges against Leonard.
Before the jury entered the courtroom Monday, Judge John Marnocha ruled that Shirley's previous statements about the explosion cannot be introduced prior to her testifying. Anything she said to neighbors, investigators or the media will not be used in lieu of her testimony.
However, the judge is allowing both the defense and state to ask witnesses general questions of Shirley's demeanor following the explosion.
The defense also filed for a mistrial--accusing the State of misleading the jury and the judge in its line of questioning and demonstrations from week two of the trial.
The defense argued that they weren't given ample amount of time to review video evidence introduced by the State.
"The State has a duty to us to show us the evidence," said David Shircliff, one of Leonard's attorneys.
Judge Marnocha quickly denied the motion after explaining that the video is consistent with the previous evidence and testimony presented by the State.
Lisa Liebig, a former Marion County crime scene specialist, took the witness stand first on Monday afternoon.
She heard the blast from her Irvington home, but she didn't get involved in the Richmond Hill case until the following Tuesday.
"That was one of the most secure crime scenes I've ever worked," said Liebig.
Initially, she was assigned to take DNA samples from two damaged doors at the scene. However, she was called back to the scene in the following days and told the jury that she collected well over 300 pieces of evidence.
Some of the evidence that she documented included a stick of incense, a metal panel of a crock pot, a metal circuit board, a piece of charred metal attached to a battery, a cap to a CVS pharmacy prescription and a piece of melted plastic and metal.
Prosecutor Denise Robinson says her team is attempting to show the jury the origin and cause of the blast.