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Mark Leonard sentenced to 50 years in prison for trying to hire hitman during Richmond Hill case

Posted at 11:30 AM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 17:51:09-05

INDIANAPOLIS – Mark Ray Leonard, the man convicted in the Richmond Hill explosion, was sentenced to 50 years in prison Wednesday for trying to hire a hitman to kill a witness.

Leonard’s 50-year-sentence will be served consecutively alongside his current two life sentences without parole.

Leonard was arrested in December 2012, along with his brother, Bob Leonard Jr., and then-girlfriend Monserrate Shirley, in connection with the explosion on the south side of Indianapolis that killed Dion and Jennifer Longworth and damaged or destroyed nearly 100 homes.

SPECIAL SECTION | Richmond Hill Explosion & Trials

Prosecutors say while Leonard sat in the Marion County Jail, he attempted to hire a hitman to kill a man named Mark Duckworth, who he intended to try to frame for the explosion.

Up until that point, Leonard and Duckworth had been friends for 20 years. Duckworth told a South Bend jury at Leonard's murder trial that he spoke with his old friend just days before the explosion.

A few weeks later, Leonard was in jail when he allegedly asked another inmate – acting as a confidential informant – about how to contact a hitman.

Instead of a gun-for-hire, Leonard eventually spoke on the phone with undercover ATF Agent Jeremy Godsave under the fictitious name "Jay."

In a recording played at his murder trial, Leonard can be heard giving "Jay" directions to Duckworth's house. He also asked "Jay" to make Duckworth call 911 and say three specific sentences before he killed him.

In response to Wednesday's sentencing, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry released this statement:

"As the final step in the justice process concludes against Mark Leonard, the families of Jennifer and Dion Longworth, the residents of Richmond Hill, and all others affected by the explosion case can move forward from this senseless criminal act. Justice has been served, as pledged from day one on behalf of the Richmond Hill residents."