Plea deal talks underway for suspect in 2012 Richmond Hill explosion, according to source

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INDIANAPOLIS - Talks are underway to reach a plea agreement with one of the remaining defendants in the Richmond Hill case.

Prosecutors will meet with neighbors and the victims’ families Monday evening to discuss a possible plea deal for Gary Thompson. He’s charged with murder and conspiracy to commit arson.

Investigators say, on the day of the explosion in November 2012, Thompson was in the home and helped set a microwave timer to go off, sparking the explosion in the home filled with natural gas.

Eighty homes were destroyed or damaged; Jennifer and Dion Longworth were killed.

The homeowner, Monserrate Shirley, pleaded guilty to arson conspiracy and faces 20-50 years in prison.

Mark Leonard, Shirley’s live in boyfriend, was convicted. He is believed to be the mastermind of the plot to blow up the home for insurance money.

His brother, Bob Leonard Jr., was also convicted.

Both were sentenced to life without parole.

At their trials, Monserrate Shirley testified that Gary Thompson was brought into the plan because of experience with a previous arson fraud plot. She said she watched Mark Leonard and Thompson stuff cardboard in the chimney to keep natural gas from escaping, fueling the explosion.

The meeting about a possible plea deal with Gary Thompson is Monday night. A hearing for another co-conspirator, Glenn Hults, is set for October.

A source close to the investigation tells FOX59/CBS4 that the Marion County judge hearing these cases wants this wrapped up by the end of this year. That includes sentencing for Monserrate Shirley.

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