Last Richmond Hill defendant agrees to plead guilty to assisting a criminal

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The final defendant to stand trial for the murderous Richmond Hill explosion on Indianapolis’ south side in 2012 has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that may result in no additional jail time.

Glenn Hults was charged with conspiracy to commit arson for the natural gas blast that destroyed the home of Monserrate Shirley, caused $4 million in losses and killed two neighbors.

Instead, while the first potential jurors in his trial were being quizzed, Hults and his attorneys agreed to an offer from Marion County prosecutors to plead guilty to a charge of assisting a criminal, a lesser felony that could be reduced to a misdemeanor conviction, and no more than three years in prison as opposed to the possible 20 year sentence he faced if convicted on the original charge.

Hults’ sentencing is set for Dec. 28 at 1 p.m.

Brothers Mark and Bob Leonard Jr. are already serving terms of life without parole following convictions of murder and arson for the natural gas blast, which happened four years ago tomorrow, in pursuit of an insurance fraud scheme that was expected to result in a $300,000 insurance settlement payoff.

Shirley has already pleaded guilty to an arson conspiracy charge and testified that Mark Leonard coerced her out of either love or fear to agree to the intentionally set explosion at 8349 Fieldfare Way.

Shirley faces a presumptive sentence of approximately 30 years in prison when she goes back before Marion Superior Judge Shelia Carlisle Dec. 19 as does Gary Thompson, another conspirator who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, when he returns to court early next month.

Shirley’s neighbors Jennifer and Dion Longworth died in the explosion, fire and collapse of their home minutes after the blast which prosecutors theorize was engineered through a disabled fireplace valve and a microwave timer.

John Longworth told Judge Carlisle that the deaths of his son and daughter-in-law were essentially a life sentence for his family and all the conspirators should pay accordingly.

“They should be burned to death,” Longworth said as he testified about his reaction to the Hults plea agreement. “This is probably okay now.”

Investigators claimed Hults knew of the plot several months in advance, agreed to babysit Shirley’s daughter the weekend of the explosion and during other failed attempts and intended to hide some of the personal possessions taken from the home before the blast.

Defense Attorney Ralph Staples said his client was “adamant” that he did not agree to participate and played no active role in the plot for which he has already served seven days in jail.

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