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LIVE BLOG: Richmond Hill witnesses testify

Posted at 1:47 PM, Jan 22, 2016

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- The prosecution started calling witnesses to testify Friday in the trial of Bob Leonard. He's accused of conspiring with his brother to blow up a house in the Richmond Hill neighborhood 2012, killing Jennifer and Dion Longworth.

Dion Longworth's aunt, Laura Byram, was in the courtroom on Friday.

She heard the radio calls for the first time that were made by a neighbor who tried to save her nephew.

Watch that RAW interview above.

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9:36 a.m. – David Clager, 8426 Swift Court, called as witness by the prosecution.

“I had just fallen asleep. My wife was doing some work and I just retired to bed. I was awakened by a muted sound. I thought initially something very large had tipped over.”

“My wife screamed, ‘Do we have a roof on our house?’ I was dazed and confused and she asked again, ‘Do we have a roof on our house?’”

“One of my neighbors who was an IMPD officer got in his car and sped urgently away. You kind of expected him to turn left out of the neighborhood, but he turned right back into the neighborhood. So you kind of realized something was really wrong.”

“The front of the house faced the incident. Essentially all of the windows had to be replaced. The garage door was crumpled.”

9:45 a.m. – Clager dismissed.

9:46 a.m. – Shawn Looper, 8442 Swift Court, called as witness by the prosecution.

Looper testifies that he is a 16-year veteran of IMPD currently assigned as a homicide detective.

“I heard an extremely loud boom. I was sitting in a chair and several items on the wall fell off.”

“At first I thought it was perhaps a transformer had blown.”

“Upon going out, there were a couple neighbors on their front porch. I could see flames rising.”

Looper says he grabbed his department-issued gun and radio and ran outside.

“You could see the fire and destruction that had taken place. I could smell a distinct odor of what I thought was natural gas.”

“The one house was literally gone. The house south of that was engulfed in flames.”

“I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I could not go any further north because of the heat.”

9:55 a.m. – The prosecution enters into evidence an audio recording of radio communication made by Looper on the night of the explosion.

Audio: “We have at least probably 10 homes injured.”

Audio: “I’m still smelling gas. Let’s start getting these houses evacuated.”

Audio: “For unites responding, let’s stop traffic on Towhees and get these houses evacuated.”

Audio: “We’ve got someone trapped in the house burning! We’ve got a person trapped!”

Audio: “We’ve got a man trapped in the back here. He’s screaming!”

Audio: “I’m behind the last burning house to the south. I can’t get any closer. We need more firefighters back here!”

10:13 a.m. – A juror submits a question asking Looper if he relayed information about turning off gas lines to other residents. He says he did not.

10:16 a.m. – Looper released as a witness without cross-examination.

10:17 a.m. – Stephen Ajamie, 8363 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

“I heard my windows break and a big boom.”

10:24 a.m. – Ajamie dismissed.

10:25 a.m. – William Maple, 8356 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

“We heard a loud boom and shake. A lot of debris and things were falling off the walls.”

“The first thing we saw was everybody’s garage doors caved in. Then a blue light. Then a fire.”

Maple says he had to remove his garage door to get his car out.

10:33 a.m. – Maple dismissed.

10:33 a.m. – Court takes brief recess.

10:55 a.m. – Court resumes.

11:02 a.m. – Dean Weathers, 8345 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

“All of a sudden there was a loud explosion. Everything that was on the wall was coming down. Glass was breaking.”

“My wife came down and asked what I did. I said a house behind us had blown up. The explosion had blown the window blinds in and then back out, so when I looked I could see the fireball over the houses.”

“We just kind of stood there for a moment taking everything in. There was debris everywhere. I remember looking at the sky and I could see insulation floating. It was eerily quiet, except for the crackling of the fire. In the center there was a plume … like a jet of fire about 6’ tall. I remember thinking that was kind of odd.”

Weathers says he and another neighbor went around shutting off gas to several other houses.

11:15 a.m. – Weathers dismissed.

11:16 a.m. – Mardna McGlacken, 8344 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

“I heard a loud noise. It almost knocked me out of bed. We went outside and saw a big fireball.”

“The roof was loosened, so I had to get a new roof. The brick was loosened, so I had to get all new brick on the front side of the house.”

11:23 a.m. – McGlacken dismissed as a witness.

11:24 a.m. – Alaina Lennon, 8338 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness by the prosecution.

“There was a little bit of a shake in the house. I thought at first we were having an earthquake. No sooner had I had that thought than I heard the most powerful explosion I’d ever heard. You can’t even describe it.”

“Stuff started falling on me and I was just screaming, ‘Oh my god! Oh my god!’ I thought our house was exploding. I don’t know why.”

11:34 a.m. – Lennon dismissed.

11:35 a.m. – Matt Barre, 8333 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

Barre says he had lived in the house for about a week when the explosion occurred.

“The sliding patio door had blown open and it was just a hole in the house. My initial thought was that a drunk driver had hit the house.”

Barre says he and his wife split up and went door to door on Fieldfare Way trying to help evacuate people.

11:47 a.m. – Barre dismissed.

11:48 a.m. – Shelly Speiden, 8327 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

Speiden says she lived at her home in Richmond Hill with her three sons ages 8, 16 and 18.

“[The explosion] was very multisensory. We weren’t sure what had happened. We went downstairs but we couldn’t get out of our back door because it was very damaged.”

“My youngest son, the 8-year-old, was crying and hysterical and kept saying, ‘Mom, we have to leave, we have to leave.’”

“My 16-year-old, Connor, has autism. I kept looking and him and he wasn’t moving. He was just standing there looking at me. I thought, oh my gosh, I’ve lost him.”

Speiden says she and her sons had to live in a hotel for 8 weeks while her home was repaired.

12:00 p.m. – Speiden dismissed.

12:01 p.m. – Shawn Sullivan, 8326 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

Sullivan said he’d lived in Richmond Hill for 14 years. His house was one of the first built in the neighborhood.

Sullivan’s family was at a school function on the night of the explosion.

“Going up to the house, it was evident something had happened. The garage door was blown in and unmovable. There were a lot of wall cracks.”

12:09 p.m. – Sullivan dismissed.

12:10 p.m. – Andrew Colbert, 8304 Andrusia Lane, called as a witness.

“I was awoken by a tremendous blast. For a second I thought it was a flashback to Afghanistan, it was that big.”

Colbert says he served in the Army in Afghanistan in 2010-2011.

“During the middle of the night, a huge explosion rocked the base. A dump truck full of explosives had inadvertently blown themselves up. They had 2,000 pounds of explosives. It rocked the base. That was the only thing I could think of close to the [Richmond Hill] explosion.”

“I thought, I’m not in Afghanistan. I’m at home. Something unnatural has happened.”

“I went out to the garage and both my garage doors were wrapped around my cars. We left our house, walked down the neighborhood to see what had happened. There was a hold where houses should have been.”

12:21 p.m. – Colbert dismissed.

12:33 p.m. – Court recesses for lunch.

1:40 p.m. – Court resumes session.

1:49 p.m. – Kirk McDonald, 4034 Armada Drive, called as a witness.

“I was sitting there, then all of a sudden the house shook. There was a loud bang and things were falling off the wall.”

“You could see what was left of a house, and in the middle there was a flame. I assumed it to be the main gas line.”

McDonald says he ran over to the Olvey house, where the family was trapped.

“We heard the mother screaming for help and then we heard the kids. That house actually collapsed in on them.”

1:58 p.m. – McDonald dismissed.

2:00 p.m. – Ben Melvin, 4012 Armada Drive, called as a witness.

“I was watching the news. I turned to say something to my wife, and then the explosion happened. The next thing I knew I was on the ground. I looked around kind of dazed and confused. Outside I could see all kinds of stuff falling out of the sky. I thought our house had blown up.”

Melvin says he went outside and ran over to Fieldfare way, eventually arriving at the Olvey home.

“I remember looking up the stairwell and seeing straight out of the house. You could see flames shooting into the night sky.”

“A guy wo was a little smaller than me climbed over the debris on the stairwell and I threw him my flashlight to look around. About that time, Glen Olvey said there wasn’t anybody up there. And the other guy said, ‘That’s good.’”

“We got to the school and all the reporters were there. Rafael Sanchez was there and he started talking to me.”

2:21 p.m. – Melvin dismissed.

2:22 p.m. – Nicholas Hunter, 4018 Armada Drive, called as a witness.

“The percussion wave made our house swell up like a balloon. It caused our house to have to be gutted.”

2:30 p.m. – Hunter dismissed.

2:32 p.m. – Theresa Carmichael, 8303 Alcona Drive, called as a witness.

“I was a mile from my house. We were outside and we felt the earth shake like an earthquake. Then somebody said a bomb had hit the back of the Richmond Hill neighborhood, and I immediately panicked because I live in the back of the neighborhood. I was concerned about what I was going to go home to.”

Carmichael said she got a police escort into the neighborhood to retrieve her dog from her home. Eventually found it hiding and shaking under her bed. She and her daughter had to be out of their home for 7 months while repairs were done.

2:42 p.m. – Carmichael dismissed.

2:43 p.m. – Cynthia Glynn, 8309 Alcona Drive, called as a witness.

“I woke up to a picture falling on my head. My son ran downstairs absolutely hysterical wanting to know what was going on. [Glynn’s husband] Bob ran down to where we could see the fire. He ran back and said, ‘We’ve got to get out of here. This whole neighborhood is going to blow up.’ All you could see was this ginormous fire.”

2:53 p.m. – Glynn dismissed as a witness.

2:55 p.m. – Jill Phillips, 8314 Alcona Drive, called as a witness.

“My front door blew in. I didn’t know if it was my house. I heard a lady screaming outside. That’s when we went out and saw the fire and the ‘warzone.’ There were things falling from the sky. I guess it was insulation.”

3:03 p.m. – Phillips dismissed as a witness.

3:04 p.m. – Craig Fall, 8327 Alcona Drive, called as a witness. Fall says he’d lived in Richmond Hill for 11 years at the time of the explosion.

“As I was reading, I heard what sounded like a very loud explosion. The next thing I heard was my wife and stepdaughter screaming.”

“I went downstairs and the first thing I noticed was the front door was blown off its frame.”

Fall says the explosion did $70,000 worth of damage to his home.

3:15 p.m. – Fall dismissed.

3:16 p.m. – Eric Beard, 8407 Alcona Drive, called as a witness.

“I looked outside and saw an orange glow over the houses across the street.”

Beard says his daughter was friends with one of the Olvey girls. They saw her on the way out of the neighborhood being bandaged by a paramedic.

“My daughter ran up and gave her a hug. She was glad to see her OK.”

3:25 p.m. – Beard dismissed.

3:27 p.m. – Jurors ordered to return to court at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

3:28 p.m. – Court adjourns for the day.

Call 6 Investigator Rafael Sanchez and Senior Digital Correspondent Jordan Fischer will be in Fort Wayne covering the trial every day. Download the RTV6 app to get the latest live blog posts as the proceedings unfold.

FOLLOW | Rafael Sanchez on Twitter | Jordan Fischer on Twitter

RELATED LINKS | Richmond Hill Special Section |  Mark Ray Leonard convicted on all counts

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