Richmond Hill suspect's trial moved to South Bend

INDIANAPOLIS - The trial for one of the suspects in the Richmond Hill explosion will be held in South Bend.

Court documents filed Wednesday revealed Mark Leonard’s trial will be held in St. Joseph County after the judge overseeing the trial agreed to the change of venue in July.

Leonard, his former girlfriend Monserrate Shirley and his brother Bob Leonard face charges of murder, arson and conspiracy to commit arson in the November 2012 blast that killed two of Shirley's neighbors and wrecked dozens of houses in the Richmond Hill subdivision on the city's far south side.

Prosecutors allege the three set the blast in Shirley's home as part of a scheme to collect insurance money. Authorities consider Mark Leonard to be the mastermind in the blast.

Mark Leonard, Bob Leonard and Shirley are being tried in three separate trials.

Mark Leonard remains in custody in Marion County. It has not been determined if he will be transferred to South Bend -- that decision will be up to the judge in South Bend. 

Leonard's South Bend trial date has not been set, but the Marion County prosecutor hopes the trial will begin by next spring. The prosecutor believes the change of venue will yield an impartial jury pool despite the pre-trial publicity.

The Marion County Prosecutor's Office will rent a truck to transport evidence to South Bend for the trial. The price to move the trial could cost an extra $500,000 to $750,000.

Despite the expected cost of the change of venue, the prosecutor will wait to ask for extra funding from the city.

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