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LIVE BLOG: Richmond Hill Trial Day 10

Posted at 1:03 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 17:17:21-05

Richmond Hill Trial of Bob Leonard, Day 10

9:30 a.m. -- Ross Ott, fire origin/cause investigator and mechanical engineer at Fire Findings LLC, called as a witness by the prosecution.

  • Ott says his company was contracted to investigate the explosion at 8349 Fieldfare Way. Ott: "We were looking for anything in particular."
  • Ott says he took concrete core samples at 8349 Fieldfare Way as well.

10:10 a.m. – Craig Balliet, chemistry laboratory manager at Barker & Herbert Laboratories, called as a witness by the prosecution.

  • Balliet says his lab received concrete core samples from Shand Forensics and from Fire Findings LLC taken from 8349 Fieldfare Way.
  • Balliet asked to give overview of chemical processes used to determine if ignitable liquid is contained in a fire debris sample, such as a concrete core sample.
  • Balliet says both companies asked for the samples to be examined for ignitable liquid residue.
  • Balliet says gasoline residue found in Shand Forensics Sample 10.
  • Balliet says a heavy petroleum distillate was found in Shand Forensics Sample 35. Balliet: "That would be something like kerosene or diesel fuel." Could also be from concrete floor finishing.
  • Balliet says styrene (component of Styrofoam) was found in Sample 36, but that's common.
  • Item 37: No ignitable liquid residue.
  • Item 38: Heavy petroleum distillate residue.
  • Item 39: Gasoline residue, styrene and turpene (component of turpentine). Balliet says turpene is found in coniferous wood, and can leak out when wood is heated to a high degree.
  • Item 40: Gasoline residue and styrene.
  • Item 41: Styrene residue.
  • Item 52: Heavy petroleum distillate residue.
  • Item 53: Heavy petroleum distillate residue.
  • Fire Findings Item 1: Heavy petroleum distillate.
  • Item 2: Heavy petroleum distillate.
  • Item 3: Heavy petroleum distillate.
  • Item 4: Heavy petroleum distillate.
  • Item 5: Negative.
  • Item 6: Gasoline residue (taken from southeast corner of living room).
  • Item 7: Negative.
  • Balliet says he "has no idea when the gasoline got there, or how it got there," but can only identify its presence.
  • Balliet says there was considerably more gasoline residue in Shand Sample 10 than in other samples.
  • Defense attorney Mark Inman: "There's only one set of samples that match, but you don't know the date, you don't know the amount?" Balliet: "That's correct. I don't know."

11:15 a.m. – Steve Shand, owner of Shand Forensic Investigations

  • Shand says he investigates 6-8 explosions a year, in addition to numerous fires. Most are much smaller than the Richmond Hill Explosion. Shand: "I've worked two or three large explosions, but this by all counts was by far the largest."
  • Shand was hired by State Farm to investigate the explosion. Eventually assigned to just represent home at 8349 Fieldfare Way.
  • Shand: "As you started 3-4 blocks away, you could see debris lying around. As you got closer, the magnitude was incredible. It almost looked like a tornado hit, to me. It was unbelievable to see for the first time."
  • Shand says he suggested a fence be put up around the area closest to the blast. Shand: "This whole area is an evidentiary nightmare, so we wanted only one person to have the key."
  • Shand says security at the scene was tight, with police there 24/7. Shand: "You couldn’t cast a shadow on this place without somebody questioning you. You had to have a right to be there."
  • Shand says every item bigger than a half inch was picked through piece by piece.
  • Shand, on finding gasoline burn patterns: "Once I clean this carpet, and get all the ash and soot off it, I basically have a roadmap of everywhere gasoline was poured.
  • Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson: "When you see these burn patterns, you know natural gas is not the end of it. You know something else is a player." Shand: "Absolutely. We had a living room that had liquid accelerant poured over the carpet in an irregular pattern."
  • Gasoline burn patterns found in living room and kitchen. Shand: "What we have here is two separate and distinct areas of fire origin."
  • Defense attorney Mark Inman: "When did you generate your origin and cause report?" Shand says he didn't complete one, as he hasn't yet seen all the evidence in the case.
  • Inman: "You never delved into the ignition source? You never delved into the flow of natural gas?" Shand: "No. We weren't privy to that."
  • Inman: "Have you seen Jamie Novak's video? He evidently has this bootleg, underground video of a microwave blowing up with a cylinder in it." Shand says he hasn't seen the video.

2:56 p.m. – Dr. David Sheppard, ATF Fire Research Laboratory, called as witness by prosecution.

  • Sheppard says he's been teaching computer modeling techniques since 1993.
  • Sheppard was called to respond to the initial Richmond Hill Explosion scene, and was then contacted later to build a model of the home's gas system and figure out how long it would potentially take for the excess gas that passed through the meter to enter the home.
  • Jurors see video of Sheppard's computer modeling after an explanation of how he set it up.
  • Sheppard says he ran calculations at 13 different flow rates. He came up with an absolute minimum of 3 hours for the gas to flow into the house and reach 5% concentration at the suspected ignition sources.
  • Sheppard says he never reviewed the report made by Mike Sullivan of Citizens Energy Group. He said Sullivan reviewed his report.
  • Sheppard says his model couldn't account for all possible leakage in the home.


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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