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LIVE BLOG: Richmond Hill Trial Day 11

Posted at 1:08 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 17:11:27-05

Richmond Hill Trial of Bob Leonard, Day 11

9:00 a.m. – Fred Hackett, Midwest Forensic Services, called as witness by the prosecution.

  • Hackett says he was contracted by Citizens Energy Group to assist in determining the cause of the explosion.
  • He says investigators quickly realized there was a step-down valve missing from 8349 Fieldfare Way's gas manifold. There was also strange damage to the microwave.
  • Hackett: "Characteristically in a gas explosion you see the appliances are deformed or smashed as other objects fall on top of them. You don't typically see them disassembled, with the door blown off. So that was a red flag right there that something unusual had happened."
  • Hackett also says the metal cylinder would typically have melted or collapsed in on itself, not BLEVE'd: "You can clearly see it was torn apart."
  • Prosecutors enter exemplar wall stud and wall stud recovered from 8349 Fieldfare Way into evidence.
  • Hackett: "The big thing is, it's intact. Generally, if the valve was attached, this stud would have splintered."
  • Hackett says the home's furnace and water heater weren't damaged enough to have been the source of the explosion.
  • Defense attorney Mark Inman on cross: "Do you have an opinion on the source of ignition?" Hackett: "At the time, in the field, I did not."
  • Hackett says a candle or the microwave could have been the ignition source. Also could have been an "old style" thermometer.

10:01 a.m. – IFD Lt. Mario Garza recalled as witness.

  • Garza says Richmond Hill has "big houses on small lots."
  • Pictures found of interior of home from when Monserrate Shirley had it listed for sale show items that weren't found by investigators. Garza: "I should be able to find TVs, DVD players, VCRs, knives, spoons, dishes … the sort of normal stuff you have in your house. I found television remotes, but no TVs. I found wall mounts for TVs, but no TVs. I didn't find the table. I didn't find the picture of Ms. Shirley's daughter. They should have been there."
  • Garza says the microwave found at the house could be set on a delayed start up to 24 hours in advance.
  • Garza: "Everything from the Shirley fireplace was found, except for the valve coming in."
  • Garza says he ruled the cause of the fire was incendiary, and that it was intentionally set.
  • Defense attorney Mark Inman on cross: "After all this work you did, all the evidence and investigation, what we know is it's incendiary. Someone jimmied the gas. But we don't know how it happened?"
  • Garza: "Correct."

11:15 a.m. – IMPD Detective Jeff Wager called as witness by the prosecution.

  • Wager says he was on a call on the 2200 block of North Meridian Street on the night of the explosion. He heard it called in over his police radio.
  • Wager says he was assigned as the lead detective on the case because there were determined to have been deaths involved.
  • Wager says police learned Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard were at a casino at the time of the explosion. Shirley's daughter Brook was at Glen Hultz's house. Snowball the cat was being boarded.

11:35 a.m. – IMPD Det. Randy Cook called as witness by the prosecution.

  • Cook says he was at home on the night of the explosion. He heard and felt a "loud rumble."
  • Cook says he responded to Mary Bryan Elementary, where he was assigned to collect names and info of Richmond Hill residents.
  • He interviewed Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley around 3 a.m. Cook: "They were in shock. Disbelief."
  • Cook says Mark Leonard did most of the talking. Monserrate Shirley "appeared to be sobbing."
  • Deputy Prosecutor Mark Hollingsworth: "Did Mark Leonard just start talking about some things?"
  • Cook: "He stated they'd had a gas leak in the residence. That he'd smelled gas the week before. That he'd replaced the thermostat."
  • Defense attorney Ted Minch on cross: "Ms. Shirley also told you about an ex-husband. She told you she had a restraining order. That wasn't information you elicited?"
  • Cook: "Correct."

11:54 a.m. – Special Agent Patrick Hand, ATF, called as witness by the prosecution.

  • Hand says he was called to respond to the explosion: "It was sheer devastation. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before."
  • Hand says his role was coordinating ATF resources on the scene. He also requested Dr. Sheppard from the ATF Fire Research Laboratory come assist.

12:05 p.m. – Court recesses for lunch.

1:38 p.m. – Bret Bastable, gaming agent for Indiana Gaming Commission, called as witness by the prosecution.

  • Bastable says he was asked by ATF to investigate Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard's activities at the casino on the night of the explosion.
  • Bastable says Mark Leonard only played one game of Blackjack during the entire 11.5 hours he and Shirley were at the casino.
  • Mark Leonard asked for a comped room at the casino hotel on the night of the explosion, but was denied. Bastable says he and Shirley stayed without a hotel room until past 11 p.m., when they got the call about the explosion. The pair left the casino at 12:04 a.m.
  • Defense attorney Mark Inman: "Were you asked to pull surveillance for any other trips to the casino?" Bastable: "Unfortunately, surveillance only goes back seven days.
  • Inman: "Well, you saw the video of Monserrate Shirley walking around the casino by herself. It didn't look like she was being forced to do anything. She wasn't being led by the hand?" Bastable: "No."

3:23 p.m. – Audri St. Pierre, Hollywood Casino Hotel manager, called as witness by prosecution.

  • Prosecutors enter hotel records showing Mark Leonard made reservations at the hotel for three consecutive weekends. Each reservation was for one night only.

3:34 p.m. – Ashley Stuckey, hospital manager at VCA Sugar Grove Animal Hospital, called as witness by prosecution.

  • Stuckey says the hospital had no history of boarding Monserrate Shirley's cat Snowball prior to Oct. 26-29, 2012.

3:40 p.m. – Kathleen Tilson, owner of Arbor Lane Kennels, called as witness by prosecution.

  • Tilson says Snowball the cat was boarded from Nov. 3-5, 2012, at Arbor Lane Kennels.
  • She says after the explosion, Monserrate Shirley returned asking for a receipt stating she'd asked to get the cat groomed.

3:50 p.m. – Jordan Coffey, general manager of Barkefeller's, called as witness by prosecution.

  • Coffey says Snowball was boarded at Barkefeller's from Nov. 9-15, 2012.


4:00 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.

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

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