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LIVE BLOG: Richmond Hill Trial Day 18

Posted at 4:45 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 17:47:07-05


9:18 a.m. – Jurors enter courtroom.

9:20 a.m. – Judge begins playing recorded video of charging information and instructions.

10:34 a.m. – Deputy Prosecutor Mark Hollingsworth begins State's final arguments:

"It's now your turn to do your job, and that is to determine whether the State has proven Bob Leonard's guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

"We have Lt. Garza, the lead fire investigator, and after a very lengthy investigation he determined the step-down regulator had been removed from the gas manifold and replaced with a straight pipe. He found the Dante valve was gone. He found the cylinder was BLEVE'd. That, to an arson investigator, is a red flag."

"The sum of all the evidence is: This was not an accident. This was not a utility issue."

"You had a long day with Lisa Liebig. Why did we do that? Because it was fun? No. To show you how thorough the investigation was."

"We often talk about the smoking gun. In this case, you're looking at the smoke gun. That manifold is the smoking gun."

"This bottle … what was immediately apparent to a trained arson investigator is that something wasn't right. That wasn't caused by fire."

"You had experts in the field saying appliances would not work with 2 pounds of pressure, there's no reason whatsoever to remove that regulator."

Hollingsworth says an explosives expert determined the blast originated in the kitchen.

"The explosion turned the Longworth home into kindling. Dion and Jennifer were very much alive before the defendant and his co-conspirators committed this horrible crime. Jennifer was killed instantly. Dion was not. He burned alive."

"You could be hearing right now not two murder counts, but six, if not for the efforts of neighbors saving the lives of other neighbors."

"When Ken Bailey, the insurance investigator, testified, I asked him if he's ever seen anything like this. He said yes: A hurricane."

"When you blow up a house in a residential neighborhood, you know your neighbors' houses are close by. You know your neighbors have cars. You know your neighbors have dogs. You have committed a knowing act."

"Bryan Hollingsworth had to go through one of the most horrific things you can imagine. He stayed with Dion and kept him talking, kept him distracted so he couldn't see the fire coming. That's going to stay with him forever."

"The casino was the contrived alibi of Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard. They sat at that bar for 11 hours. They didn't have a reservation. They were waiting for a phone call."

"Ken Bailey … he actually spoke to Bob Leonard. Bob didn't want to be recorded. But he made some key admissions in this case. He had the van that weekend. He went to buy the thermostat. But then he asked, 'What's Mark telling you?'"

"Justin Leonard, this defendant's own son, came to testify against this man. He said his father had property from this house that exploded. He was told it came from after the explosion, but we know that's impossible."

Hollingsworth says Bob Leonard may have known about the plan prior to Monserrate Shirley.

Bob Leonard's DNA was found on the door, steering wheel and gear shift of the white van. Also on Monserrate Shirley's front door.

Hollingsworth says Art Kirkpatrick told the Leonards the house would fill up with gas like a balloon until it popped. "I submit to you he didn't say this was a good thing. He said you don't want this to happen. Little did he know that's exactly what the Leonard brothers wanted to happen."

"Leonard told Mr. Bullock they had to make sure the house was seriously damaged, because there was a fire station just a mile away. To collect that $300,000 insurance payout, the house had to be completely obliterated."

"Attempt #2: We now have Bob Leonard involved. It's the first time Monserrate Shirley has met Bob Leonard. HE asks, "does she know what's going on?'" Oh yeah, she knows."

"Bob Leonard, for his role in this, is supposed to get paid $10,000."

"Third attempt: There's a meeting at a Steak 'n Shake. There's talk about the house being too big. Gas isn't able to enter it quickly enough. There was some research done."

"Ask yourself: Do you know fires can hurt people? Do you know fires can kill people? Do you know explosions can hurt people?"

"Folks, this defendant did this. This man is guilty as he sits over there. The evidence proves it. You can now feel entitled to remove that presumption of innocence and find him guilty."

11:53 a.m. – Defense attorney Ted Minch begins defense's closing arguments.

"As I told you in voir dire, 'thank you' doesn't do it justice. The task you have before you is monumental."

"This case is really structured into the what, the how and the who."

"As Lt. Garza testified, he didn’t reach a conclusion as to the ignition source in the case. And I think that's important for you to remember in this case."

"The State's burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob Leonard is guilty of each and every element in every count in this case."

"We talk about the 'what:' It was a massive property loss. That's not an overstatement. As you consider this case, however, you must think about the 'how' and the 'who.' You must think about what the State has shown you about Bob Leonard's involvement. About how Bob Leonard did what he's accused of. About when Bob Leonard did these things. We told you at the beginning of this case that there would be a strict timeline."

"The conclusion that Mr. Sullivan came to was 6-9 hours for the gas to enter that house and reach the combustible mixture by 11:10 p.m."

Minch says Dr. Sheppard calculated a minimum of 3 hours for a flammable mixture to reach the ignition sources and an upper range starting at 9 hours.

"We heard from Monserrate Shirley that Gary Thompson and Mark Leonard blocked the flu, and the windows were closed and sealed."

"Dr. Sheppard's report confirms what we already knew from Mr. Sullivan, which is that you have a nine-hour upper limit."

"According to Dr. Sheppard, a reasonable timeline for the gas to be turned on was 2:10 p.m. to 8:10 p.m."

"What we learned from Lt. Garza is that someone jimmied the gas, we don't know who, someone turned on the gas, we don't know who, and someone set an ignition source."

"We heard from Jeremy Bullock. You know who Jeremy Bullock is. He's a convicted murderer who got a deal to testify. He said Bob Leonard told him they took furniture from 8349 Fieldfare Way to Joey Armanno to sell. But Joey Armanno said that was false. And Joey Armanno doesn't have a deal to testify."

"Was it gasoline, natural gas, or both? The bottom line is, we don't know."

"If they knew, they would tell you it was the microwave. If they knew, they would tell you it was the thermostat. If they knew, they would tell you it was a candle."

"The thermostats were never tested. Neither one of them. You weren't showed a video of a thermostat igniting natural gas. That's because no testing was ever done."

Minch says Bob Leonard gave information about the thermostat willingly. "He gave information knowing there was this investigation. He gave information knowing it was Mark Leonard's house that exploded."

"After five weeks of trial and more than 150 witnesses, we know what? We know there's no single competent ignition source. And we don't know the accelerant, whether it was single, both, or none of them. But what we do have is a timeline."

"Monserrate Shirley said she was responsible for three things in this case: She boarded the cat; she took care of brook; and she made the hotel reservations. But she also increased her insurance policy limit. If Monserrate Shirley had not raised her policy limit, maybe this explosion wouldn't have happened."

"Monserrate Shirley says she didn't sell her house because she didn't want to sell Brook's childhood home. But she was sure willing to blow it up."

"By October 2012, we know Monserrate Shirley and Mark Leonard were having serious financial problems. We know from Monserrate Shirley's testimony that Mark Leonard was involved in schemes to defraud people of money. And Mark Leonard was gambling and having some gambling losses."

"On Nov. 1, we hear this is the first time Monserrate Shirley has ever heard of Bob Leonard. Monserrate Shirley said she walked in after a 12-hour shift and heard Mark Leonard on the phone with Bob Leonard. But look at the phone records. There are only a couple of calls between Bob Leonard and Mark Leonard, and they were all around 10 a.m. Well before Monserrate Shirley would have gotten off her 12-hour shift. Did she really hear that phone call?'

"Monserrate Shirley says Mark Leonard told her he promised to pay Bob Leonard $10,000. But that's not what Monserrate Shirley says Bob Leonard told her. That's what Monserrate Shirley says Mark Leonard told her."

"Monserrate Shirley said Mark Leonard told her to give Bob Leonard $40 to buy a part, but there's no evidence entered of how much a straight pipe costs. Pure guesswork."

Minch says there were no phone calls or texts between Bob Leonard and Gary Thompson in November 2012.

"Mr. Hollingsworth said there is a gap in Bob Leonard's cellphone records on Nov. 10. Ladies and gentlemen, that gap is just as consistent with Bob Leonard coming home after a late night out and going to sleep during the gay as it is him shutting his phone off."

Minch says there is no evidence that Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley met Bob Leonard to give him $500 while they were under police surveillance.

"What's interesting about the discussion [with Art Kirkpatrick] is there was no discussion about ignition sources. There was no discussion of the 5-15% flammability range. There was no discussion about any of the things that have to happen."

Minch says when Bob Leonard picked up the golf clubs, he did so when there was an IMPD officer present. And he had a pleasant conversation with one of the residents.

Minch says Mark Duckworth, a 22-year friend of Mark Leonard, said he never met Bob Leonard.

Minch says cellphone records show Mark Duckworth and Mark Leonard met on Nov. 8, 2012. Mark Duckworth and Glen Hultz had multiple conversations after the explosion.

"The State put on three witnesses in their case that were meant to tell you what Bob Leonard did in this case: Monserrate Shirley; Jeremy Bullock; and Tristan Wiegman."

"Monserrate Shirley, she believes she's a victim in this case. She told you that. And because she didn't plead to arson or murder, her sentence is potentially suspendable. She could get zero time in this case."

"What's important about that proffer is, she knew Bob Leonard was charged. And she knew her proffer meant nothing if she didn't talk about Bob Leonard."

"The deal she received is a great deal by any definition. Two potential life without parole sentences gone. Dismissed. Four counts of murder. Gone. Dismissed. She pleaded guilty to none of the intentional acts."

"When she gave that proffer and testified in front of you, she had time. Precious time. Ladies and gentlemen, if she would say anything Mark Leonard told her to because money was on the line, what would she say when her freedom was on the line?"

Minch says Jeremy Bullock is "a convicted murderer and expert State's witness." He says Bullock has testified in two other high-profile cases. Bullock had access for two years of discovery and coverage before he wrote the letter to Det. Wager."

"Tristan Wiegman apparently remembers a statement made by Bob Leonard four months ago, but he also thought he was with Bob Leonard in jail in August. And he told you he hoped to get something out of it."

"There was no warrant for Bob Leonard's financial records. The State had alleged the motive was financial gain. But you haven't heard from a single witness who testified that Bob Leonard needed the money. Not one. But Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley sure did."

"Mark Leonard called Dave Gill one hour before Tony Burnett testified he saw two individuals enter the house and leave hurriedly. And Mr. Burnett said he was 60% sure one of those individuals was Dave Gill."

"Ladies and gentlemen, the State has not met its burden in proving the guilty of Bob Leonard beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore you must acquit."

2:41 p.m. – Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson begins State's rebuttal.

"What does an explosion do by its very nature? It destroys things. It's the same as a murder case where someone was shot and the murderer throws away the gun. Can we then not say someone was shot? No."

"If there wasn't a competent ignition source, we would not be here today."

Robinson says Dr. Sheppard wasn't looking at 129 possible ignition sources, he just plotted 129 possible ignition locations.

"Counsel wants to limit it to that 9 hours, but that was not Dr. Sheppard's testimony. He said at a minimum the upper range was 9 hours. But he couldn't rule out the night before."

"Counsel said the State has to prove how it was done and if it can't prove exactly how it was done, you can't find that it was done. That's not true."

Robinson says state law requires prosecutors to prove that Bob Leonard engaged in some affirmative conduct in the conspiracy, not that he was involved in each element.

"Who sets the microwave? Who's pinging off the cell tower at 11 o'clock at night near 8349 Fieldfare Way? Him."

"Counsel said the State didn't prove if this was natural gas or gasoline or both. But you do know. The evidence from Citizens Gas is incontrovertible."

"You have to ask yourself: 'What did Bob Leonard say to Monserrate Shirley?' What did he say after the explosion? What did he say when she told him people died? You're in this. It's the very definition of conspiracy."

"Counsel says, well, why didn't they ask about competent ignition sources? Would you? You just asked about what happens when you fill up a house. Now you're going to ask, well, how do you blow it up?"

"The defense said, well, Mark Duckworth might have been involved. And Tony Burnett is 60% sure he saw David Gill. And that's the sum total of the evidence against David Gill."

"If you believe Monserrate Shirley, if you believe her testimony, she gives you the conspiracy."

"She could have said all kinds of other stuff, but she didn't. If she really wanted to lie, if she really would have said anything to get out of jail, she could have said oh yeah, when I was leaving Friday morning Mark and Bob Leonard were loading up the furniture."

"Joey Armanno got up here and said he didn't take the furniture. You think? If Joey Armanno got up here and said he did take the furniture, where would that put him? Right in the middle of the conspiracy."

"Physical evidence doesn’t lie. Physical evidence corroborates."

"Aristotle said the sum of coincidence equals certainty. The sum of coincidence in this case is overwhelming."

"If you find the Bob Leonard did anything in this case, it's as if he did everything himself. That's the law."

"Based upon all the evidence in this case, based upon the wall of evidence the State told you it would build, I ask you find the defendant guilty in this case."

3:50 p.m. – Jurors begin deliberations.


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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