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Jury gets case of Indiana couple accused of blowing up home

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - An attorney for a man accused of planning a deadly home explosion that gutted an Indianapolis subdivision told jurors Monday that most of the state's case rests on the testimony of his client's former live-in girlfriend, whom he described as not credible.

John Shircliff described Monserrate Shirley, the former girlfriend of defendant Mark Leonard, as "a master liar and a master manipulator" in the defense closing arguments of the month-long case.

Shircliff also told the jurors the case isn't about what makes sense in their minds but what prosecutors have been able to prove against Leonard, who faces 53 counts including charges of murder, arson, conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

Shircliff tried to portray Shirley as the main plotter, but Deputy Marion County Prosecutor Denise Robinson argued the evidence shows Leonard was the one behind the plot to burn down the house for insurance money. She says the defense attorneys acknowledged his culpability in their opening statement.

Another of Leonard's public defenders, Diane Black, said in her opening statement in the trial that her client intended only to start a small fire.

Jurors got the case late Monday afternoon.

The case was moved to South Bend because of the pretrial publicity in central Indiana.

More than 160 witnesses testified for the prosecution but the defense called just one witness who testified for a half hour. They then played a nine-minute video of a television interview that Shirley gave following the explosion before resting their case.

Prosecutors say Leonard plotted with Shirley and his half brother, Bob Leonard, to blow up the home to collect $300,000 in insurance money. The blast killed a couple living next door, Jennifer and John "Dion" Longworth.