Richmond Hill trial: Mark Leonard’s sister testifies about text message received on night of blast

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (June 30, 2015) – State prosecutors are now transitioning their case to connect lead Richmond Hill defendant Mark Leonard to the deadly 2012 blast.

Live blog: Go inside the courtroom with CBS4.

Leonard's sister, Tammy Leonard-Durham, was called by the state to testify against her own brother Tuesday morning.

She told the jury that she received a series of text messages from her brother the evening of the south side explosion. 

Durham said she received a text message from her brother saying that he won $250,000 while gambling at the Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg.

A camera captured images of Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard after the blast.

A camera captured images of Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard after the blast.

Leonard then asked her if he could send a limo to pick her and her boyfriend up from her home and bring them to the casino to celebrate. She initially denied his offer, but then accepted when her boyfriend suggested she "call his bluff." Leonard then said they may soon be getting on a plane to Las Vegas.

Instead, the two suspects stayed at the casino for several hours. Once the couple received word that their home had been destroyed, they returned back to Indianapolis.

The State relied on Tammy's recollection of the night and a deposition she provided to investigators days after the blast. Leonard's defense argued that there is no record or proof of the text message being sent other than Durham's memory.  

She explained to them that's the reason why she was "forced to be here."

Two agents with the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) took the stand next to prove Leonard and Shirley were at the casino that night.

Agent Bret Bastable detailed the activity of the couple inside the casino. They were there for about 12 hours. Leonard played blackjack and actually lost about $100 instead of winning $250,000.

David John, a surveillance manager at the casino, told the jury how the system captures and stores data. He walked the jury through a condensed version of Leonard's and Shirley's stay. They left shortly after Shirley received a phone call.

Derrick Collins, the hotel manager of the Hollywood Casino, said Leonard made hotel reservations on three consecutive weekends. 

The State is trying to prove that Leonard and Shirley stayed at the Casino during several unsuccessful attempts to blow up Shirley's home.

During those three hotel stays in Lawrenceburg, the couple also boarded their pet cat named Snowball.

The prosecution argues that Leonard and Shirley conspired to blow up their home as they protected their cat in a shelter and returned to the casino during the explosion attempts.  

The cat was left with three different kennel companies during each alleged attempt. 

The Richmond Hill home eventually exploded on November 10, 2012.  

Prosecutors then shifted gears to demonstrate the dire financial situation Shirley and Leonard were in.

Mary Rose-Weston was hired by Shirley to sell the home in March 2011.

Mortage payments were consistently behind, as much as three months late, but they were catching up at the time of the incident. 

An offer was received on the home but Shirley decided to take the home off of the market. 

Alan Strange, an auditor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recreates financial conditions in criminal investigations and was called to the stand Tuesday.

He detailed the desperate finances of the couple. 

According to Strange, Shirley and Leonard would take cash advances on their credit line and in some cases use that money to gamble.

He described their living condition as, "paycheck to paycheck."

Monserrate Shirley's attorney was in the courtroom Tuesday in preparation for her appearance on the stand Wednesday.