Richmond Hill suspect Bob Leonard Jr. says he wasn’t involved in fatal 2012 explosion

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 12, 2016)-- Accused Richmond Hill co-conspirator Bob Leonard Jr. watched last summer as a jury in South Bend tried his half-brother Mark for the plot to blow up his girlfriend’s home in a murderous insurance fraud plot.

Mark Leonard was convicted and sentenced to life without parole for the explosion that killed two neighbors.

Bob Leonard Jr. realized much of the same evidence would be presented at his trial set to begin in Ft. Wayne next week, and after a judge ruled he couldn’t fire his attorneys, the alleged triggerman reached out to CBS4 to tell his side of the story.

Leonard said he will demand to testify in his own defense.

Prosecutors claim Bob Leonard Jr. and Gary Thompson arrived at 3549 Fieldfare Way on Indianapolis’ south side on the afternoon of November 10, 2012, to set a timer on a microwave oven to go off and spark an explosion inside the home which was filled with natural gas.

“He…Gary Thompson…ongoing said that he was part of the conspiracy from the beginning all the way up to the last week and that I was never there, I was never part of it.” said Leonard in the first recorded interview since his arrest more than three years ago. “He doesn’t know me, never met me, I wasn’t there in any way.”

Investigators said they recovered Leonard’s DNA from the door to Shirley’s home and from his half-brother’s white Ford van, proving he was there that day.

“Why in the world would I be knocking on the door when I got Mark Leonard’s van with the garage door opener on the sun visor when I can walk in the garage anytime I wanted to?” Leonard argued. “Why wouldn’t my DNA be on the door? I’ve been over there.”

A neighbor told police he saw a tall man in his thirties with dark hair knocking on the door of the house the afternoon of the explosion.

Leonard is in his late fifties with a head full of white hair.

“Tony Burnett also said when police showed him line up pictures of me, ‘That’s not the man,’ before I was ever arrested. He also said in a deposition since then Bob Leonard was absolutely neither of the two men that he saw.”

Investigators found that Mark Leonard had given his half-brother a set of golf clubs from inside the Shirley house and satchels of paperwork to safeguard after the explosion.

Leonard said he received the golf clubs before the blast more or less as a gift from his half-brother and that he gave his son the documents to hold onto after the explosion because of his suspicions as to Mark’s involvement in the case.

“I don’t trust nobody because you said to me I let my son hold the trick bag with the golf clubs,” said Leonard. “I didn’t do that…all I did was say, ‘Here, hold this stuff. I don’t know what Mark’s got. Let me find out about this dumb (stuff), okay.’”

During Mark Leonard’s trial, Arthur Kirkpatrick, a Citizens Energy employee, said he met the Leonard brothers at the Gaslight Inn, a bar on South Meridan Street, just before the explosion and the conversation centered on how much natural gas from a leak it would take to blow up a home.

“And Art says, ‘No, if it was a small leak or a big leak it don’t matter, it would still keep filling up the house and fill up the house til it blew up top, and I said, ‘Oh I didn’t know that.’ Mark Leonard said, ‘Yeah …’”

At that point Leonard said deputies were interrupting his phone call and the conversation ended.

Leonard referred to his brother as, “a jinx,” and that, “bad luck,” befalls all who deal with him.

Shirley told investigators her boyfriend promised Bob Leonard Jr. $10,000 to help in the plot and Leonard had actually been paid $500.

Leonard accused Shirley of lying about his alleged involvement in order to secure a more favorable Plea Agreement with Marion County prosecutors and a lesser prison sentence.

Leonard’s trial is expected to last six weeks.

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