FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Monserrate Shirley told jurors Thursday she lied about her involvement in the Richmond Hill Explosion because she feared for her and her daughter's lives.
Shirley testified in Fort Wayne at the trial of her former boyfriend's brother, Bob Leonard, Jr. Both were arrested in connection with the deadly 2012 explosion that killed Dion and Jennifer Longworth.
Shirley told jurors her boyfriend Mark Leonard told her he and his brother Bob were only going to start a "small fire" in her house in order to collect $300,000 in insurance money. After the house exploded, Shirley said she told them she wanted out – but they threatened her and her daughter.
"Mark Leonard told me if I ever told anyone about this he would cut me into pieces and my daughter … and no one would ever find us," Shirley said. "I was afraid! I didn't want anything to happen to my baby."
Shirley admitted to making the hotel reservations, and to making arrangements for her daughter and their cat, Snowball, but maintained she didn't know the scope of what the Leonards were planning. Bob Leonard's defense attorney Ted Minch wasn't swayed.
"Well the truth is, you did more in this case than those three things you told the jury," Minch said. "You didn't just make the hotel reservations and take care of Brook and the cat. You made those insurance claims. You cashed those checks. You lied to all those people."
Minch said Shirley was only testifying to avoid spending life in prison without parole – the sentence her former boyfriend Mark Leonard received last fall. Shirley said that wasn't the case.
"These people deserve the truth," she said. "Even if I’m back in Marion County and the judge says 50 years, that's OK, because I will have told the truth."
But Minch hammered his argument home again once more in closing.
"You're here today to get the best deal you could," he said.
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