Indiana man pleads guilty in deadly house explosion
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- One of five people charged in a deadly house explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood pleaded guilty Friday to a conspiracy charge after agreeing to a deal with prosecutors.
Gary Thompson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit arson and will be sentenced to 30 years in prison with 10 years suspended. Prosecutors announced the agreement with the 45-year-old man on Tuesday.
Thompson's deal is similar to that of Monserrate Shirley, the woman whose cooperation with prosecutors led to the charges against Thompson. Thompson initially faced a September trial on two counts of murder and other charges.
The natural gas explosion On Nov. 10, 2012, killed a couple who lived next door and damaged or destroyed more than 80 homes.
Two other people have been convicted in the blast, a third reached a plea deal and another faces a November trial.
According to WXIN-TV, (http://bit.ly/2aN8lAS ), the father of one of those killed said after Friday's hearing that he is not happy that Thompson may eventually leave prison. John Longworth, whose son, Dion Longworth, was killed, also complained that none of the five people charged in the case have ever apologized. Jennifer Longworth also died in the explosion.
Prosecutors allege Thompson knew of plans to tamper with the natural gas flow into Shirley's home and ignite the gas using a microwave on a timer. Court documents allege the house was destroyed in a scheme to collect $300,000 in insurance after two previous unsuccessful attempts to burn it down.
Authorities have said Mark Leonard created the plan and enlisted the others. He was convicted in July 2015 of murder, arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and sentenced to two life sentences without parole plus 75 years. His half-brother, Bob Leonard, was convicted in February of murder, arson and other charges and also sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole, plus 70 years.
Shirley pleaded guilty in January 2015 as part of her own plea deal to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson. Her cooperation with prosecutors led to charges against Thompson and another alleged co-conspirator, Glenn Hults.
Hults is scheduled to stand trial in November on a charge of conspiracy to commit arson.
Information from: WXIN-TV, http://fox59.trb.com/news/