Richmond Hill neighbors react to plea deal talk

INDIANAPOLIS - Word spread quickly Friday of a plea deal reached between prosecutors and Richmond Hill explosion suspect Monserrate Shirley – with neighbors in the area of the deadly blast saying it was unwelcome news.

Shirley faces 54 charges, including murder and arson, for the November 2012 explosion that claimed the lives of two neighbors, Dion and Jennifer Longworth.

Neighbors said Friday they want to see justice done for those they lost.

"Two people lost their lives," said Jordan Ketchem. "Is that worth getting a little time off? No."

The terms of the plea deal have not been disclosed, but legal experts said they expect Shirley will get a reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against her co-defendants.

READ MORE: Richmond Hill explosion suspect reaches deal with prosecutors

"I think the prosecutor feels that the state needs somebody to tie up the loose ends in this case," said Indianapolis attorney Jack Crawford. "We all know what happened. But how it happened is still pretty much in the dark."

A plea deal could also change the dynamics for how attorneys for brothers Mark and Robert Leonard will mount a defense. Neighbors near Richmond Hill all said they believe a conviction will happen, but disagreed over the length of possible sentences if the three are convicted.

"I can understand them cutting her sentence to maybe twenty years," said Bill Staggs. "But the other two I think were behind it, and I think they should get life."

Whatever the terms of the deal, neighbors said the scars of the explosion are still fresh – along with the anger toward the trio who face upcoming trials.

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