INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The three accused of causing the explosion in the Richmond Hills subdivision might spend the rest of their life behind bars if Marion County's Prosecutor gets his way.
Prosecutor Terry Curry filed a request for a life sentence without parole Monday against Mark Leonard, Monserrate Shirley, and Bob Leonard, Jr., who have been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the fatal Richmond Hill explosion in November.
Shirley, 47, is the owner of the home, 8349 Fieldfare Way, that ignited and explodedwhich caused a fire at the house next door killing homeowners Dion and Jennifer Longworth.
COMPLETE COVERAGE | South Side Explosion
"This decision was arrived at after thoughtful consideration in accordance with our procedure in potential capital cases," Prosecutor Curry said in a press release. "The intentional acts of the defendants, as alleged, were undertaken with no regard whatsoever to the tragic consequences which did in fact flow from a scheme to blow up the Shirley residence. Those alleged acts, if proven, thus justify that the defendants spend life in prison with no option for parole."
ANALYSIS | What went into the decision?
In the release, Curry said the filed request for life sentence without parole was issued due to alleged "aggravating circumstances" including detonating an explosive device causing multiple deaths.
Curry told 24-Hour News 8 reporter Troy Kehoe that he convened what is called a death penalty review team, something he established here in 2011. A six-member committee said they unanimously agreed with the recommendation that the death penalty should be taken off the table in this case.
"At the end of the day, I think the conclusion we have to reach is if we go through this process, and we're to seek capital punishment, given all the circumstances in any given case what's the likelihood that the jury would agree with that request," Curry said.
Curry said the review team's decision was that it was unlikely that the jury would agree with that decision. That is why they are now again seeking life without parole against all three of the defendants.
Curry is scheduled to meet with Richmond Hill residents at 7 p.m. Monday night at Southport Presbyterian Church to explain his decision to pursue life without parole.
When asked if the prosecutor's office is still looking for a fourth suspect, Curry said "absolutely." He said he would not say if they are closer to closing in on who that person is.
Doug Aldridge, crime coordinator for the Richmond Hill subdivision, told 24-Hour News 8 he is pleased with the decision.
REACTION | Residents react to Prosecutor's decision
"This is as good as can be," Aldridge said. "As long as they don't get out of jail and do it again, I am OK with it."
Aldridge said this option gives the criminals a chance to think about what they did.
Prosecutor files more charges
Curry said the prosecutor's office has also charged Shirley, Mark and Bob with one count of conspiracy to commit arson, a Class A felony, 12 counts of arson, a Class A felony and 33 counts of arson, a Class B felony.
Mark and Shirley have also been charged with an additional count of conspiracy to commit arson, a Class B felony.
A motion has been filed by the prosecutor to add an additional count of arson, a Class B felony, against the three defendants for damage to houses in the Richmond Hill subdivision that didn't require demolition. Shirley has been charged with one count of insurance fraud, a Class C felony. An additional charge of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, a class C felony, has been added against Shirley and Mark.
A pre-trail conference for Mark, Bob and Shirley is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 21, in Marion County Superior Court 3.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for Central Indiana through Friday night. Southern counties will be under a winter storm warning beginning Thursday night through Friday night.
Employees at some Indianapolis fast food restaurants took part in a 100-city strike Thursday morning.
Crews in Indianapolis and around Central Indiana are gearing up for this upcoming winter weather event.