INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A Marion County judge has ruled that prosecutors are free to seek life without the possibility of parole sentences against the three suspects charged in connection with a 2012 house explosion on Indianapolis’ south side.
Judge Sheila Carlisle issued the out of court ruling late Friday, nearly three months after attorneys for Mark Leonard and Monserrate Shirley filed motions asking Judge Sheila Carlisle to throw out the possibility of such sentences if their clients are convicted.
Shirley’s attorney Jim Voyles and Leonard’s attorney Deana Martin argued that amended murder charges filed by prosecutors last spring did not include “aggravating factors” that must be present to seek the life without parole sentences. Prosecutors countered that those factors were present in the case, and included setting an explosion that would likely result in death and causing the death of multiple people.
Carlisle’s ruling sides with the prosecution.
Leonard, his brother Bob and Shirley are accused of setting an explosion inside Shirley's home in order to collect insurance money. Dion and Jennifer Longworth, who lived next door, were killed in the blast. At least 33 homes were destroyed and dozens of others were damaged.
Messages left for Voyles and Martin seeking comment on the ruling were not immediately returned.
All three suspects are scheduled to appear in court for a pre-trial hearing in December. A tentative trial date has been set for June 2014.
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