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Explosion suspect hires high-profile attorney

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A high-profile attorney has been hired to represent one of three persons charged with causing the deadly gas explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood and killed a couple.

Indianapolis attorney James Voyles will represent Monserrate Shirley, whose home in a neighborhood on the city’s south side exploded on Nov 10. Shirley, 47; her boyfriend, Mark Leonard, 43; and his brother, Robert Leonard Jr., 54, were charged in December with murder, arson and conspiracy. The blast destroyed 33 homes and killed two people living next to Shirley’s house.

The Associated Press left messages seeking comment at Voyles’ office Saturday.

Shirley’s former attorney, Randy Cable, said in a published report that he was told Shirley’s family wanted a “second opinion.” Cable said the family sought Voyles against his advice.

It wasn’t clear where Shirley would get the money to hire Voyles. Investigators said Shirley and Mark Leonard rigged the explosion to get about $300,000 in insurance money after gambling away thousands of dollars and amassing substantial credit card debt.

Voyles’ list of past clients includes boxer Mike Tyson and former Colts quarterback Art Schlichter, as well as other notable sports figures, including basketball coach Bob Knight, racecar driver Al Unser Jr., and NBA greats Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas.

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