Judge orders ‘inhumane’ jail conditions eased for Mark Leonard after Richmond Hill conviction

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Mark Leonard (file photo)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Aug. 5, 2015) — A South Bend judge has ordered the St. Joseph County sheriff to ease the jail conditions of convicted Richmond Hill killer Mark Leonard.

Leonard’s attorney filed a petition Tuesday claiming his client was held in “barbaric” and “inhumane” conditions.

Since his July 14 conviction, Leonard has been held either in a padded cell or a barebones side cell inside the St. Joseph County Jail, at times chained to a chair and without clothes as a suicide risk.

Defense attorney David Shircliff argued, “Clothing is a basic human need,” and, “confining an inmate to a padded cell where he is forced to remain naked and relieve himself in a hole in the ground violates the Eighth Amendment.”

St. Joseph Superior Judge John Marnocha ordered that “the defendant shall not be confined within any steel side cell or padded cell” and “the defendant shall enjoy…standard inmate clothing and access to shower facilities.”

Marnocha left open the imposition of more restrictive housing and conditions should a psychological evaluation determine that Leonard is suicidal.

Leonard faces sentencing Aug. 14 and a potential life term without parole for his role in plotting the 2012 Richmond Hill blast which killed two people and destroyed or damaged 80 homes in a failed insurance fraud scheme.

Victims of the blast have been invited to attend Leonard’s hearing before Marnocha and submit impact statements to the court that will be part of the record.

The St. Joseph County Adult Probation Department issued guidelines that include directives on crafting an impact letter that advises victims to address their losses and suggestions for sentencing, but avoid inflammatory statements or specific comments to Leonard.

At the time of Leonard’s sentencing process hearing last month, Shircliff told the Court he wanted to be present when his client was evaluated by the probation officer to avoid any self incriminating statements and comments of remorse that could become part of the trial and sentence appeal.

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