Co-conspirator gets 20 years in Indianapolis house explosion

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — One of five people charged in a deadly house explosion that devastated an Indianapolis neighborhood was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.

Gary Thompson, 45, was sentenced to 30 years, with 10 years suspended, and two years of probation under a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The November 2012 natural gas explosion leveled the home of co-conspirator Monserrate Shirley, killed a couple who lived next door and damaged or destroyed more than 80 homes.

Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle asked Thompson what would have happened if he didn't participate in the plot to blow up Shirley's home to collect $300,000 in insurance money.

"What if you just said no? What if you even called the police anonymously? What if? That's what these victims are left with," Carlisle told him.

The hearing included statements from victims and a statement from Thompson expressing remorse for his role in the blast that killed John "Dion" and Jennifer Longworth.

Prosecutors allege Thompson knew of plans to tamper with the natural gas flow into Shirley's home and ignite it using a microwave on a timer. Authorities have said Shirley's former boyfriend, Mark Leonard, created the plan and enlisted the others. Leonard and his half brother, Bob Leonard, have been convicted of murder, arson and other charges and sentenced to two life sentences without parole, plus 75 years for Mark Leonard and 70 years for his half brother.

Shirley has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson, and a fifth defendant, Glenn Hults, has pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal. Shirley is set to be sentenced on Dec. 19 and Hults on Dec. 28.

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