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Monserrate Shirley 'deserves to die an old lady behind bars,' neighbors tell judge

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 17:53:15-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- Monserrate Shirley deserves the maximum sentence the law allows – and maybe more than that, according to her former neighbors.

One after another, Shirley's former neighbors from the Richmond Hill subdivision took the stand at her sentencing hearing Monday to tell the judge their version of the same story: the night in November 2012 when Shirley's home exploded, killing Dion and Jennifer Longworth and damaging or destroying more than 100 homes.

SPECIAL SECTION | Richmond Hill Explosion

A consistent opinion of Shirley ran throughout the testimony. Her neighbors told Judge Sheila Carlisle they believed Shirley was motivated only by greed and the love of money, and that she had shown no true remorse even four years later for her part in the conspiracy to blow up her home.

"It all boils down to: I'm going what's best for me and to heck with anyone else," Patrick Crosely said.

IN-DEPTH FROM DAY 1 | Monserrate Shirley a 'smart, but lazy' nurse, former coworker testifies | John Longworth: 'She traded our children's lives for her own'

Crosely and his family weren't home the night of the explosion, but lost nearly everything they owned in the blast.

"There's no remorse," he said of Shirley. "It's just, what can I do to wiggle out of this? If this is what it takes, I'll do this and this and this so I can wiggle out of it."

Glenn Olvey lived just next door to Shirley's home. The force of the explosion collapsed his house down on him, his wife and their two daughters, trapping all but the oldest daughter inside. He described his rage when he learned prosecutors were accusing Shirley of being behind the explosion.

"When I heard who it was, I was shocked," he said. "And when the shock wore off they had to keep somebody with me to make sure I didn't leave the house. I wanted to run outside and hurt somebody. I didn't care who."

Olvey, like the others who testified, said he felt Shirley was motivated by "pure greed" and that she has never said she was sorry for what she did.

"We've seen the television interviews," Olvey said. "There's no remorse. There never has been."

READ MORE | Transcript of the Olvey Family's testimony at Mark Leonard's trial | Richmond Hill survivor Gloria Olvey tells her story for the 1st time

Olvey was followed by more neighbors, and then the families of Dion and Jennifer Longworth. Dion's mother Elaine Scorcea read a letter she wrote to her son after his death. In the letter, Scorcea says she was "sickened" to learn of Shirley's part in the explosion that killed her son. Shirley sobbed with her head down on the table as it was read.

"It must have sickened you, as it has sickened me, to learn how many thousands of times she could have said something, done something to stop this from happening," Scorcea said.

Many of the speakers also used the time to criticize the plea deal Shirley received. In exchange for her testimony – and evidence that helped prosecutors charge two more suspects in the case – Shirley only had to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson. Unlike her co-conspirators Mark and Bob Leonard, who both received two life sentences without parole, Shirley's plea deal capped her maximum sentence at 50 years in prison.

"I don't think she should ever get out of prison," Brookley Longworth, Dion's sister, said. "I don't think she should ever hold her daughter again."

As for her eventual cooperation in the case – Shirley didn't agree to testify against her co-conspirators until more than two years after the explosion – the general consensus among her former neighbors was "too little, too late."

"She had all the opportunities to stop it, and she never did," said Dean Weathers. "I really do believe it should be the maximum sentence possible. She is not the victim here."

Shirley's defense team will have Tuesday to present evidence and arguments in her favor. The final sentencing decision will ultimately be up to Judge Carlisle.