Trial date set for Richmond Hill explosion suspects

Prosecutor requests concurrent jury trials

INDIANAPOLIS - The murder trials of three suspects in the Richmond Hill explosion might have to be held outside of a courtroom because of a plan that’s never been done in Indiana.

Mark Ray Leonard, Monserrate Shirley and Robert Leonard have faced a judge in criminal court while in detention, but their trial may require a high school or a college.

The suspects in the deadly south side explosion will not return to court until March. Their lawyers are trying to figure out the best way to handle their separate trials.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office is requesting what is known as concurrent jury trials, which means having three separate juries hear the evidence at the same time in the same room.

Officials with the prosecutor's office know they are making a unique request.

"It is in Indiana, there are other states where this has been done," Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson said.

The office envisions 54 jurors --18 for each suspect. Under the scenario, the trial would last two months and could possibly involve 250 witnesses.

The move would save money. It would also spare investigators and the victims of the deadly November 2012 explosion from having to testify three times.

"The only two real issues we would have in this case are a handful of witnesses that would apply only to Mark Leonard, so we would have to move the two other juries out during those few witnesses, but that would probably be one, maybe two days of trial at most," Robinson said.

The prosecutor's office believes their jury request would mean moving the trial to a local high school or college with a large-enough room.

If the judge approves a change of venue, there is speculation she will seek jurors from a different county to serve in Marion County.

The trial date is scheduled for June 16, 2014.

The judge is not expected to rule on the prosecution’s plan until after Dec. 27. If the judge denies it, each separate trial would take up to six weeks.

The trial date may be changed because of planned computer upgrades scheduled in Marion County next June.

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