Mark Leonard formally charged with conspiracy to commit murder

Leonard accused of offering $20K to kill witness

INDIANAPOLIS - One of the suspects charged in the deadly south side explosion was in court Wednesday to answer to a charge he tried to have a witness killed from behind bars.

Mark Leonard, who already faces charges of murder and arson, was formally charged Wednesday with conspiracy to commit murder.

Special Section: Indianapolis Explosion | Read: Probable Cause Affidavit

Prosecutors said Leonard, in recorded jail phone conversations, offered to pay an undercover federal agent posing as a hit man $20,000 to kill a key witness, identified only as M.D., in the Nov. 10 blast.

Leonard offered the agent $15,000 to kill the witness, who he said had been "blabbing like a (expletive)," even going so far as to draw a map to the person's house, prosecutors said.

He also offered an additional $5,000 if the "hit man" made it look like a suicide and had the witness call 911 before, admitting that he made up his statements about the case, prosecutors said.

"I want him to say, 'I did not mean to frame Mark and (his girlfriend Monserrate Shirley) for their own house in Richmond Hills,'" Leonard told the agent, according to the probable cause affidavit.

According to the original probable cause affidavit in the case, M.D. is a "good friend and associate" of Leonard's to whom he confessed several things about the explosion.

On Nov. 2, Leonard told M.D. about a failed arson attempt at the home, and said that he was looking for a Ferrari to buy with his cut of the insurance money, prosecutors said.

Leonard said he believed that if the witness recanted his statements, the case against Leonard would collapse and he would be set free, prosecutors said.

"Oh I'm sure that will get me out of here, dude," Leonard told the agent, according to the affidavit. "It will get me out of jail pretty much instantly if you have him call 911 from like his cellphone."

Leonard and Shirley, who both lived in the Richmond Hill home, and Leonard's brother, Robert Leonard, each face about 50 charges, including murder, arson and conspiracy, in connection with the explosion.

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