Suspect in Indianapolis house explosion 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 Indianapolis explosion that leveled a neighborhood and 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 in the Nov. 10 blast.

Prosecutors said Leonard talked about killing a witness, identified only as M.D., in his jail cell, which was overheard by another inmate who tipped off police.

After intercepting calls, the gang unit of the sheriff's department worked with the other inmate to connect Leonard with a supposed hitman, who was actually an undercover federal agent, prosecutors said.

Leonard offered the agent $15,000 to kill the witness, 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.

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.

Curry said the witness in question is safe, and that no other witnesses have been threatened, to his knowledge.

Leonard, his girlfriend, Monserrate Shirley, who 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.