INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Search warrants detailing what led to the arrests of three suspects in last year's south side explosion were unsealed late Wednesday.
As the three appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing Wednesday, Judge Sheila Carlisle agreed to unseal the search warrants that helped put them behind bars.
Though the warrants have been unsealed, only 15 of them had been released by the Marion County Clerk's office by late Wednesday. The remainder of the warrants will be released Thursday, a spokesperson said.
Still, the 15 initial warrants alone compromise more than 100 pages, and include information on everything from cell phone record searches to vehicle and residence searches.
Though much of the information inside the warrants was released in December as part of the probable cause against the three suspects, new details have been confirmed inside the warrants themselves.
INSIDE THE WARRANTS
The first warrant was filed on Nov. 12, just two days after the explosion. Investigators began by asking for billing information, incoming and outgoing calls, text messages and cell tower locations on both Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley's cell phones.
The search warrants also confirm that investigators had determined by Nov. 12 that the explosion had been caused by natural gas, and that they believed the fireplace was the only potential source. They had also identified the microwave and electric range as likely ignition sources at that time.
Expanded cell phone record searches were filed on all 3 suspects, as well as on other associates and friends connected to them. At least one wiretap, known as a Title 3 warrant, was also filed. Judge Carlisle declined to unseal that warrant in open court Wednesday, saying she felt it was improper to do so since she was not the judge that signed it.
A request to unseal the wiretap warrant will be put in with that judge—Robert Altice—on Thursday.
Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said she could not comment Wednesday on what is inside the wiretap, but that it could contain information critical to her case.
"We can't disclose it to the defense or talk about it without it being published," she said. "Hypothetically speaking, it could be. But, I can't get into any specifics of it. It certainly is something to which the defense would be entitled."
Following up warrants were also filed to search the homes of all three suspects within the first week after the explosion. Investigators reported recovering everything from financial records to photographs, appliance manuals and prescription medicines at the home Shirley and Leonard shared. Investigators were looking for everything from computers and cameras to lighters and accelerants, according to the warrant.
Investigators searched the home of Bob Leonard on a tip from his son Justin, who, according to the warrants, allegedly told investigators he helped his father unload boxes and totes from Mark Leonard's van the day after the explosion.
According to court documents, Justin Leonard's ex-girlfriend told police that Justin Leonard said Mark Leonard "blew the house up on purpose to collect on the insurance," and that items were taken out the house before the explosion occurred.
Investigators searched for that tote that Justin Leonard claimed contained pictures and other family items, but were unable to locate it at Bob Leonard's home on Rybolt Avenue. They did recover golf clubs, guns and ammunition from that home, according to the warrants.
Detectives also searched a white work van owned by Mark Leonard and the now defunct Cavalier Hotel and Conference Center on Thompson Road, where he worked as a security officer.
SUSPECTS IN COURT
The release of the warrants came as all three suspects returned to court Wednesday.
Judge Carlisle considered a long list of motions behind the bench in each case, including amended murder and arson charges, which were written with more specific language by prosecutors. She also heard requests from Shirley's attorney, Jim Voyles, who filed a motion to receive copies of all phone and wiretap recordings that may have been made on her client from inside the Marion County Jail.
Other motions included one from all three defendants to dismiss the prosecution's request for life-without parole sentences and one from Mark Leonard's attorney, Deana Martin, to limit media access to her client.
Carlisle did not rule on any of those motions, noting that the prosecution has until April 22 to respond to the life-without parole objection and that the media has until April 19 to respond to the limited access motion.
Prosecutors didn't take an official position on the media request, but following the hearing, Robinson said she wouldn't support it.
"As an official, if it's open to the public, it's open to the public, including the media," she said. "They've also filed a motion saying they believe it's unconstitutional to show a shackled, handcuffed defendant on TV. We certainly disagree with that."
Mark Leonard's attorney also filed a motion notifying the court of a "belated alibi," saying he was at a casino in Lawrenceburg at the time of the explosion.
"We knew that. That's part of the case. So, that was not a surprise to us. The alibi notice has no impact for us whatsoever," Robinson said.
Asked if objections to the seeking of life-without-parole sentences could be problematic, Robinson shrugged.
"There is case law. The defense is citing to one particular case, which on its set of facts indicated that those justices believed life without parole to be problematic in that felony murder instance. There are other cases that disagree.
Ultimately, that will be something that we argue in front of the judge, and she can make a determination. But, we believe life-without-parole to be on firm footing," she said.
Attorneys for all three suspects declined to comment on the case following the hearing.
TRIAL DATE GOAL
Discovery in the case has not even begun yet, Martin argued, as she pushed for a 2015 start to any potential trial. She told Carlisle she was "trying to be realistic."
While prosecutors acknowledged items have been slow to emerge, they cited the massive scale of the case.
"You're looking at a potential of probably, from the state's perspective, 150 witnesses and boxes of discovery. It's a significant trial, there's no question. There is so much testing going on in the case. This isn't a situation where you're testing one controlled substance. There is significant amount of crime lab testing. It doesn't work like C.S.I.," Robinson said.
Carlisle responded to Martin's push for a delayed date by shaking her head.
"We will be realistic. We're going to have a date in 2014," she said from the bench, setting a "goal" start date for the trial of June of 2014.
Some Richmond Hill residents inside the courtroom Wednesday said they're frustrated with the pace of justice.
"That's a long time away," said Rosalyn Aldridge, whose home three doors down from Shirley's was heavily damaged in the blast. "That's a long time away. But, they're still in jail. I'm just happy with that."
"I'm very frustrated," agreed Abby Jackson, who lives six houses away. "There's a lot of anger. But, we knew it was going to take awhile. It is what it is. It just takes time. You know, God willing, I just pray for justice to be served."
All three suspects will appear in court again on June 21.
A federal agency has awarded two Indiana manufacturers more than $15 million in tax credits intended to boost their production of clean energy equipment.
A company is set to move drilling equipment onto Indiana State University's property and start looking for oil.
Thousands of people in Indianapolis were without power early Thursday morning.