Expert says plea deals more likely after Richmond Hill verdict

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 14, 2015) -- Three defendants are still set to stand trial in the Richmond Hill case, but a huge verdict against the explosion's mastermind could change things.

"It's been a long time coming, it really has," former neighbor Glenn Olvey said.

Choking back tears, Olvey celebrated the verdict against Mark Leonard at the spot where his life changed - what used to be his home in the Richmond Hill neighborhood. Olvey was trapped inside that home and rescued by neighbors the night of the explosion.

"I wish it could've never happened. ... I just hope this is the first step of closure for everybody," Olvey said.

A jury convicted Leonard on 53 counts, including felony murder, for being the mastermind behind the house explosion that destroyed homes and took the lives of Jennifer and Dion Longworth.

Closure, though, is only a quarter of the way done. Leonard's brother, Bob Leonard, is scheduled to stand trial in Fort Wayne in January and two other co-conspirators still await their days in court.

"If I were in a position of representing a co-defendant, I'd be watching this trial intently," criminal defense attorney Jamie Edgar said.

Edgar, who once worked in the prosecutor's office, told CBS4 that with such a strong case, the state would likely have no problem going through with the other trials. However, he said that the quick verdict could persuade the other defendants to take a deal.

"(For the jury) to come back in four hours, that's a pretty strong showing for the state," Edgar said.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry told CBS4 his office had not held conversations over plea deals in the case, but that it would consider them.

"As Montserrate Shirley did, if someone is willing to take responsibility for what they’ve done then we’ll have discussions with their counsel," Curry said.

For neighbors, what mattered most on the day of the verdict was justice. Pam Brainerd and Vicky Koerner both spoke inside the homes they've since rebuilt.

"I just got chills, goosebumps and tears just to know it had come back so quickly," Brainerd said.

"I hope this is the first step towards many to vindication all the way around," Koerner said.

For Olvey, who shared a hug with Indianapolis Director of Homeland Security Gary Coons, it was a big step towards healing, especially as he fights a second battle for his life.

"Between this and the other fight that I'm going through right now with cancer, it's hard, it really is, but one day at a time," Olvey said.

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