Jury selection set to start Tuesday in second Richmond Hill house explosion trial

Richmond Hill

Bob Leonard walks to court on Jan. 19, 2016

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Jan. 19, 2016) — A thousand potential jurors have been called for the start of jury selection in Allen Superior Court for the trial of Bob Leonard Jr., the second of the accused Richmond Hill conspirators to face trial in the Richmond Hill case.

Leonard is accused of conspiring with his half-brother Mark in the natural gas explosion that destroyed the home of Monserrate Shirley on Fieldfare Way on Nov. 10, 2012, damaging or demolishing more than 80 homes, causing more than $4 million in losses and killing neighbors Jennifer and Dion Longworth.

Mark Leonard was convicted on 53 counts, including murder, and sentenced to life without parole.

Bob Leonard Jr. faces the same fate as he is accused of entering the home of his half-brother’s girlfriend and setting a microwave timer that started an explosive chain that brought down the house.

In several telephone interviews and one in-person meeting at the Marion County Jail, Leonard denied playing any role in the blast and said he had lost confidence in his court-appointed attorneys to tell his story.

Leonard said he will insist on testifying on his own behalf “because I’m innocent…because there are things that the state’s trying to suppress in this case that shows that I’m innocent.”

Due to a hernia and complaints about his counsel, Leonard said he will ask for a continuance in his case, a request Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull is not inclined to grant citing her decision last month to deny a previous attempt to fire lawyers Ted Minch and Mark Inman.

Leonard was moved to the Allen County Jail late last week.

Opening statements are expected Thursday morning.

The trial may last six weeks.

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