Indiana Mans Gets 2 Life Sentences in Deadly House Blast

March 21, 2016
FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2012 file aerial photo, the two homes that were leveled and the numerous neighboring homes that were damaged from a massive explosion that sparked a huge fire and killed two people are shown in Indianapolis. Opening statements were scheduled Monday, June 8, 2015, in the trial of Mark Leonard after the final jurors were selected. Leonard faces 53 charges, including murder, arson and conspiracy, in what prosecutors say was a plan to blow up a house to collect insurance money. (Matt Kryger/The Indianapolis Star via AP, File)

A judge sentenced an Indianapolis man to more than two life sentences in prison for his role in a 2012 house explosion that killed two people and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes in a scheme to collect insurance money.

Bob Leonard was convicted last month on all 51 counts he had faced, including murder, arson and insurance fraud charges. Leonard, 57, received two consecutive life sentences without parole on the murder counts, along with 70 years on the other charges, according to Allen Superior Court Executive John McGauley.

Prosecutors said surveillance video, witness testimony and DNA evidence proved Leonard was involved in the plot with his half-brother and others to use natural gas and a microwave to blow up the house to claim $300,000 in insurance.

Leonard’s half-brother, Mark Leonard, was convicted of being the mastermind behind the Nov. 10, 2012, explosion. He was sentenced in August to two life sentences, along with 75 years in prison.

The home was owned by Mark Leonard’s girlfriend at the time, Monserrate Shirley, who testified that Bob Leonard was brought into the plot after a first attempt to burn down her house failed in October 2012. Prosecutors allege the suspects planned to destroy the house by filling it with natural gas.

A microwave apparently set to start on a timer sparked the blast.

The explosion destroyed the home and the house next door, killing her neighbors, Jennifer and John “Dion” Longworth. It also damaged or destroyed more than 80 other homes in a subdivision on Indianapolis’ south side.

Leonard’s attorneys left court after the sentencing without commenting, but Longworth’s father, John, said he had expected that Leonard would receive a life sentence.

“He’s put away for the rest of his life, which will keep him from hurting anybody else,” he told WISH-TV.

During Bob Leonard’s trial last month, Shirley told jurors that when she asked him about the explosion that killed her neighbors, he replied: “Oh well, they died. You were in it. You talk, we talk.”

Prosecutors presented 16 days of testimony during Bob Leonard’s more than monthlong trial in Fort Wayne, where it was moved because of high publicity in Indianapolis. Mark Leonard’s trial was held in South Bend.

Bob Leonard didn’t testify in his defense, and his attorneys called just two witnesses who were on the stand for about a half hour.

Shirley, who testified against both men, has pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges. She faces a 20 years to 50 years in prison when sentenced.

Her cooperation also led to charges against two alleged co-conspirators, Glenn Hults and Gary Thompson, who were scheduled for a joint trial in June. Thompson faces two counts of murder and 47 arson-related counts, while Hults faces a charge of conspiracy to commit arson.

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