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LIVE BLOG: Richmond Hill Trial Day 6

Posted at 11:17 AM, Jan 29, 2016

Richmond Hill Trial of Bob Leonard, Day 6

9:28 a.m. – Paul Puckett, director of shared field services for Citizens Energy Group

  • Puckett explains Citizens Energy's response to "Code Red" explosions, like the one at Richmond Hill.
  • Puckett says he was on scene within an hour of the explosion.
  • Jurors hear how odor is added to otherwise odorless natural gas. Also about the 5-15% flammability range.
  • Prosecutors enter an exhibit of a home gas manifold into evidence. Puckett demonstrates what each part is and how gas flows through it.
  • Prosecutors enter a video of Citizens Energy training into evidence. The video shows a small, model home being filled with gas and then exploding. Bob Leonard's defense does not object, despite the same video being the subject of a mistrial motion by the defense in Mark Ray Leonard's trial.
  • Puckett asked to explain the function of a Maxitrol regulator, which lowers the pressure of natural gas entering a home.
  • Puckett says appliances and the manifold assembly at the Shirley home were all found still intact. Manifold found to have Maxitrol regulator replaced. A solid piece of pipe was where the regulator should have been.
  • Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson: "This could not have been the result of an accidental explosion?" Puckett says no.
  • Puckett: "Anytime you see a manifold in a home, you always see a Maxitrol regulator. So this was just something that was glaringly missing."
  • Puckett says it was determined the explosion did not fall under Citizens Energy's jurisdiction.
  • Defense attorney Ted Minch asks where the gas valves are typically located. Puckett says attached to a wall, typically in a utility room or garage. Not inside the drywall.
  • Minch asks if appliance regulators would lower 2 lbs. of pressure from a gas line to .25  lbs even without a Maxitrol regulator. Puckett says most would not.
  • Puckett dismissed at 12:04 p.m.

2:08 p.m. – Curtis Popp, VP of customer operations at Citizens Energy Group

  • Popp says he responded to Richmond Hill once it was declared a "Code Red" situation.
  • Popp tells jurors again the gas manifold from 8349 Fieldfare Way was found to be without a Maxitrol regulator.
  • Popp testifies as to how gas meters are read and how billing is determined.

2:50 p.m. – Christopher Braun, VP of energy operations for Citizens Energy Group

  • Braun says he is responsible for oversight of Citizens Energy's steam, gas and water pipe systems.
  • Braun says Citizens Energy had shut the gas off to Fieldfare Way and had conducted a leak survey of the area that found no leaks.
  • Braun says when Citizens Energy tested the non-damaged portions of the riser leading into Monserrate Shirley's house, they held pressure with no leaks. Braun says if the damaged portions had been damaged prior to the fire, gas would have leaked outside of the house and there would have been a definite smell of Sulphur.
  • Braun says he read the meter recovered from the Shirley home at 5,949 hundred cubic feet (CCFs) of natural gas.
  • Braun says the accuracy of the meter is +.1% at both low and high flow. He says the meter passed the accuracy and the leak test.
  • Braun says he read two other meters on Fieldfare Way to compare natural gas usage and found the usage on Shirley's meter to be more than twice the next-highest meter.
  • Braun says an analysis of historic usage determined the max expected usage for 8349 Fieldfare Way was 101.2 CCF, and the minimum expected usage was 46.8 CCF. The actual usage for the period including the blast was 208.9 CCF.
  • Braun says he calculated the excess gas in the home to be the equivalent of roughly 3-5 tons of TNT.


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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