Last of 5 convicted in fatal house explosion is sentenced

AP News
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Posted: Dec 28, 2016 6:36 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man who was among five people convicted in a deadly Indianapolis house explosion received a three-year prison sentence, with one year suspended Wednesday, becoming the final defendant sentenced for the blast prosecutors said was a plot to claim insurance money.

A Marion County judge ordered Glenn Hults to serve 1 ½ years in the Indiana Department of Correction and six months on work release. He also received one year of probation. Hults, 50, had faced between six months and three years in prison.

He agreed in November to plead guilty to a felony count of assisting a criminal. He reached the plea agreement as jury selection was underway in his trial for conspiracy to commit arson. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop the conspiracy charge.

Hults and four others were charged in the November 2012 blast that killed Jennifer and John Longworth, who lived next door to the home that exploded.

Prosecutors said a natural gas line was tampered with and a microwave on a timer was used to ignite the explosion, which damaged or destroyed more than 80 homes in a neighborhood on Indianapolis' south side.

Court documents alleged Hults, the last suspect charged in the case, knew of the plot to blow up the home. But Hults only admitted to failing to cooperate with police after the explosion, hindering their investigation by helping his co-defendants elude arrest for a time.

Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle said Hults reluctantly took responsibility for his role in the crime and could have helped authorities resolve the case more quickly if he had cooperated from the outset, The Indianapolis Star reported.

"Come on, you know what you did," Carlisle told Hults during the hearing.

The four other defendants have already been sentenced. The owner of the home destroyed by the blast, 51-year-old Monserrate Shirley, was sentenced last week to 50 years in prison. She had pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.

Prosecutors said Shirley's former boyfriend, Mark Leonard, spearheaded the plot to destroy the house with a natural gas explosion to claim $300,000 in insurance money. Leonard was convicted last year of murder, arson and other charges, and received two life sentences without parole, plus 75 years.

Leonard has appealed his convictions. His half brother, Bob Leonard, was convicted in February of murder, arson and other charges, and was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms without parole, plus 70 years.

Another defendant, Gary Thompson, was sentenced on Dec. 2 to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.