INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - One of the suspects accused of setting last year’s explosion at Richmond Hill appears ready to turn on her former boyfriend. Court documents obtained by I-Team 8 suggest Monserrate Shirley will tell a judge that Mark Leonard gave her “zero control over her own fate.”
Shirley, Leonard and his brother Bob Leonard, Jr. are charged with more than 50 counts of arson and two counts of murder in connection with last year’s deadly house explosion in the Richmond Hill subdivision. The three are set to appear in court again for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday on charges that they set an explosion inside Shirley’s home in order to collect insurance money .
In court documents filed by Shirley’s attorney Jim Voyles, she asks Judge Sheila Carlisle to “sever” her case, separating it from those of her co-defendants. The motion claims she cannot receive a fair trial if paired together with the Leonards.
HISTORY OF ABUSE
In a lengthy 11-page narrative, Voyles claims Shirley was “trapped in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with Mark Leonard.” The filing calls Shirley a naïve, controlled woman who blindly followed and trusted Leonard. He was so abusive that she had “zero power over her own fate,” Voyles writes.
He goes on to say that Shirley’s previous relationships allowed Leonard to “take advantage of her vulnerability.”
The filing also claims Shirley was subjected to mental abuse starting as a young child by her father, and that her psychological and sociological development was affected by it through adulthood. Her two prior marriages also involved abuse, which made Shirley “extremely vulnerable,” the filing states.
Shirley will also present evidence at trial of an abusive relationship with Mark Leonard, the filing states, calling him “manipulative, abusive and sociopathic.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT LEONARD’S PAST
In a separate section of the filing, Voyles writes extensively about criminal histories on Mark and Bob Leonard previously reported by I-Team 8 , stating that the explosion was “not the first insurance-scam-rodeo for either of them.”
Search warrants unsealed by Judge Sheila Carlisle in April included statements from several witnesses who claimed Leonard has destroyed vehicles and a motorcycle in order to collect insurance payments on them.
Another section of the filing accuses Leonard of selling a car where the airbag had been improperly inserted. The buyer of that vehicle was later killed in a crash, causing Leonard to “flee to South Carolina, where he stayed for five years under the alias Marcus Aurelius,” the filing states.
The filing claims Shirley “had no prior knowledge of these schemes.”
Including such character evidence in a trial involving Shirley as a co-defendant could cause a jury to “hold such statements against Shirley…given the nature of their relationship,” the filing also says.
CONSPIRACY BEHIND BARS
Mark Leonard also faces a conspiracy to commit murder charge, after prosecutors alleged he attempted to have a key witness in the case killed from behind bars. http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/news/crime/possible-new-charges-in-indy-explosion
The filing states that there is “no evidence that Shirley was a part of [the] scheme to hire someone to murder a witness.”
Voyles argues that her right to a fair trial, and any subsequent sentencing could be inhibited if she is tried together with Mark or Bob Leonard.
In order to counter that, Voyles writes that he would present evidence of “abuse…manipulation…and absolute control he held over her, which led to her standing before the jury.”
Messages left for Voyles seeking comment on the filing Tuesday were not returned, but during a hearing last month he told reporters that “the filing would speak for itself.”
Prosecutors have previously said they would object to any such filing of severance.
“The defendants acted together. They committed the crime together. And, therefore they should be tried together,” Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said in July.
Judge Carlisle instructed prosecutors to file a written response to the request by Sept. 3.
In the meantime, prosecutors will present several other filings this week, a spokesperson for Prosecutor Terry Curry said Tuesday. Judge Carlisle set Wednesday as the deadline for the filing of all motions in the case.
This week, prosecutors made surveillance videos from two south side restaurants available to defense attorneys in a process known as discovery.
Neither side would comment on what the videos show, but both restaurants are located near the former conference center and resort where Mark Leonard was working as a security consultant. Search warrants showed that investigators recovered a white van belonging to Leonard from the parking lot of that hotel. Witnesses placed the van driving away from Shirley’s home the afternoon of the explosion.
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