Richmond Hill: Recording captures Mark Leonard calmly explain instructions to 'hitman'

Jurors this week heard Mark Leonard calmly explaining to a hitman how to get to the home of a man he wanted killed – and what the man should be forced to say on 911 before his death.

Recordings of those calls – made by Leonard from the Marion County Jail to an undercover ATF agent posing as a hired gun – were played Thursday for jurors at Leonard's murder trial for the deaths of Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

DAY 16 | Full testimony | Affidavit: Mark Leonard tried to hire hitman to kill witness

The Longworths were killed in 2012 when Leonard and his then-girlfriend Monserrate Shirley conspired to blow up her house to collect insurance money.

In the recordings, Leonard can be heard telling the "hitman" – in actuality, ATF Agent Jeremy Godsave – exactly how to reach the home of the witness.

When "Jay," Godsave's fictitious name asks if there will be complications, Leonard tells him not to worry.

"The dude's kind of homebody," Leonard said. "He don't have a friend one in the world, so there won't be nobody showing up."

"He don't got nobody, not wife, no kids?" Godsave can be heard asking.

Leonard says no.

"He's a loner."

Before the recordings were played, Godsave testified about why he had Leonard call him twice from jail to confirm the plan.

"Well, for one thing, I wanted to make sure he was fully committed," Godsave said. "I wanted to give him every opportunity to back out. I figured if I said to call me tomorrow, it would give him the opportunity to do that. Also, we knew through the investigation that there was a fourth person who hadn't been identified yet. I really wanted to make a push to get that payment of money. I figured if there was anybody on the outside the defendant trusted, it would be that fourth person."

Leonard did not ultimately lead investigators to anyone else in the case – that would eventually be done after Shirley, charged as a co-defendant to the crime, took a plea deal and identified Glen Hultz and Gary Thompson as fellow conspirators.

MORE ON MONSERRATE SHIRLEY | Shirley's full testimony |Who is Monserrate Shirley? | Richmond Hill: 'No one told Mark Leonard no' | Richmond Hill: Forensic audit reveals huge debts, gambling habits | Shirley affair kept out of court

Godsave also got a very specific instruction from Leonard: He was to force his victim to say three sentences to a 911 operator before he died.

"I've got three sentences I've written down. If you just get him to say these, start the 911 call before, it'll get me out of jail," Leonard said.

The primary thing he wanted authorities to hear the victim say? "I did not mean to frame Mark and Moncie for their own house in Richmond Hill."

Jurors also heard Thursday from the jailhouse informant who tipped police off to Leonard's desire to have a witness killed.

Leonard's defense team painted Robert Smith, the informant, as a "professional snitch" – someone with a career of getting into trouble and then finding information about other inmates to get himself out faster.

Defense attorney David Shircliff accused Smith of passing Leonard his own anti-psychotic medications to put him into a dulled stated. Shircliff said Smith then "dug and scraped" for information about Leonard's case to offer authorities.

"You believed you were getting cash, you were getting out, and you might even be getting a sitcom," Shircliff said.

"I might have said the rest of that," Smith said. "I don't know anything about a sitcom."

Next week could see the end of testimony in the trial, Judge John Marnocha told jurors at the conclusion of court Thursday. He said jurors could begin deliberations as early as Monday, July 13.


 

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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