Home blast defendant won’t be tried in Indy

A woman charged in the 2012 southside home explosion that killed two people will have her trial moved away from Indianapolis.

On Thursday, a Marion County judge granted the change of venue request for Monserrate Shirley, who is facing multiple charges, including murder, arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

Police said Shirley, her ex-boyfriend and his brother had made a plan to blow up her Richmond Hill home and collect insurance money. Natural gas built up in the house, resulting in a massive explosion that damaged more than 50 homes and killed two neighbors, Greenwood teacher Jennifer Longworth and her husband, Dion.

Attorneys and the judge will meet in January to discuss where Shirley’s trial, planned for January 2016, could be moved to, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Peg McLeish said.

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Shirley’s ex-boyfriend, Mark Leonard, already had his trial, scheduled for the summer, moved to St. Joseph County. His brother, Bob Leonard, has not had his trial moved, but a change of venue likely will be approved, McLeish said.

The prosecutor’s office originally fought to keep the cases in Indianapolis but withdrew its objections after a survey of potential jurors found people were familiar with the case and selecting an unbiased jury would be difficult, McLeish said.