Richmond Hill: Mark Leonard's sister testifies about text message she received night of explosion

Mark Leonard's sister couldn't look at him Tuesday as she took the witness stand at his trial for the murders of Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

Tammy Leonard Durham was called by prosecutors to testify about a text message she received from her brother on Nov. 10, 2012 – the night his then-girlfriend Monserrate Shirley's home exploded in the Richmond Hill neighborhood exploded.

Durham, clearly unhappy about taking the stand at all, refused to look to her left – where her brother Mark sat with his lawyers – except to identify him for the record at prosecutors' request.

MORE | Day 14 Full TestimonyRichmond Hill: Who is Monserrate Shirley? | Richmond Hill: Shirley affair kept out of court | Richmond Hill: Shirley's ex-husband testifies

Prosecutors then asked Durham about a text she received around 10 p.m. the night of the explosion from her brother, who, she said, claimed he'd just won $250,000.

"It said he was at the casino and had won a large amount of money, and wanted to know if he could send a limo to get me and my boyfriend to come and hang out with them," Durham said. "I told him no, that I had my kids."

Durham said shortly thereafter she changed her mind.

"My boyfriend at the time said, 'Call his bluff,' because we didn't believe he was going to send a limo," she said. "So I texted him back, and he said they might be getting a plane or jet to go to Las Vegas with a doctor friend they had met."

Later in the day, Indiana Gaming Commission officials would testify that records showed Shirley played slots for a total of about 3 minutes that day, and Leonard played blackjack for about 9 minutes – losing $100 in the process. Neither was recorded making any significant wins.

Durham said after her brother's texts, she went to dinner at a restaurant on Southport Road, about a mile from the Richmond Hill neighborhood.

"We were finished up eating and there was a big boom," Durham said. "It felt like a big truck hit the building. The Waffle and Steak is mostly windows, and the windows went 'whooom.' There were people running outside and white stuff coming down from the sky. People thought it was the end of the world."

Prosecutors asked Durham if she would describe her brother's disposition toward Shirley as loving. She said no. But Shirley, she said, was "overly in love with him."

Defense attorney David Shircliff, who had argued unsuccessfully to keep Durham from testifying, approached her cross-examination with an aggression unseen from him prior in the trial.

MORE | Richmond Hill: Defense fights entry of key items

In a rapid-fire series of questions, Shircliff asked Durham about whether the text was recorded.

"You haven't seen any picture of that text message today have you?" Shircliff said. "The police didn't ask you to send it to them or take a picture or anything?"

No, Durham said.

"They could have taken a picture of that text message, they could have written down the contents of that text message, they could have recorded that text message in some way," Shircliff said.

"I suppose they could have," Durham replied.

"Sure they could have. Basically the jury is left with you saying you got a text message," Shircliff said.

Durham, who otherwise kept her responses limited, appeared upset by the implication.

"That's the only reason I was forced to be here today, because I have that knowledge," she said. "And believe me; I don't want to be here."

Durham's testimony was the first of a series of witnesses placing Leonard and Shirley at the Hollywood Casino on the night of the explosion. To see the day's full testimony, click here.

 

RTV6 will be in the courtroom throughout the trial. Court rules do not allow live coverage of the proceedings, but we will post a daily blog wrap up when breaks are allowed from proceedings.

MORE | Monseratte Shirley's ex-husband thought boarding of cat was 'odd' | Excess gas inside home was equivalent to 3 tons of TNT Firefighter likens blast to 9/11, questioned about bias | 'I had my hand on him' | Victims' moms testify | 'Once the floor caved in, I knew that was it' | Despite error in ATF report, no postponement for Mark Leonard trial | Trapped inside their homes Witnesses relive the blast Soldier: Richmond Hill like IED explosion in Afghanistan | 'If I had known, I would have risked everything' Monserrate Shirley 'lied to us' | Richmond Hill 'only meant to be a small fire' 

 

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