South side explosion suspect Mark Leonard charged with trying to pay to have witness killed

Leonard charged with conspiracy to commit murder

INDIANAPOLIS - One of the suspects charged in the deadly south side explosion that killed two people is accused of plotting to kill a key witness while in jail.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Thursday that Mark Leonard would face an additional charge of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with a slaying-for-hire plot to eliminate a witness, identified only as M.D., in the Nov. 10 blast.

Special Section: Indianapolis Explosion  | Read: Probable Cause Affidavit

Prosecutors said Leonard talked about killing the witness with a fellow inmate, asking him if he could put him in touch with someone who could carry out the slaying.

The inmate, working with police, gave Leonard the number of an undercover federal agent, whom Leonard then called on a phone at the jail, which all inmates are notified are monitored, prosecutors said.

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 "hitman" 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.

Officials said in Leonard's first call to the agent, he said evening would be the best time to kill the witness because he had no guns.

When the agent asked if Leonard wanted a souvenir, he said, "Yeah, I don't need it. Reading it in the paper will be enough," investigators said.

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."

Curry said the witness in question is safe, and that no other witnesses have been threatened, to his knowledge, but he said his office will do everything they can to protect victims and witnesses.

"That is a fact of life in our business, that attempts are made to intimidate individuals who are witnesses or victims, and we will take every step necessary to make that they are protected," Curry said.

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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