- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A man who was one of five people charged in a deadly Indianapolis house explosion reached a plea deal Wednesday with prosecutors as jury selection was underway in his trial on a conspiracy charge.

About two dozen jurors had been screened for Glenn Hults‘ trial on a conspiracy to commit arson charge when his plea agreement was filed in Marion Superior Court, said his attorney, Ralph Staples.

Hults, 50, has agreed to plead guilty to one count of assisting a criminal in the November 2012 explosion that killed two people and devastated a neighborhood on Indianapolis’ south side.

Staples said Hults had been in talks with prosecutors about a plea deal as his trial neared.

“They offered him the opportunity to plead guilty to assisting to criminal, so that was a good resolution,” he said.

A judge will consider Hults‘ plea Dec. 28, and if it is accepted, the conspiracy charge will be dismissed.

If Hults had been convicted of that charge he would have faced between six and 20 years in prison. But the lesser assisting a criminal charge comes with a sentencing range of six months to three years, said Michael Leffler, a spokesman for the Marion County Prosecutor’s office.

Prosecutors charged Hults and four others in a plot to destroy a house with a natural gas explosion to claim insurance money. That blast killed a couple who lived next door and damaged or destroyed more than 80 homes.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hults knew of the plot and agreed to have the daughter of co-defendant Monserrate Shirley stay at his home on the night of the explosion that leveled Shirley’s home.

Prosecutors say Shirley’s former boyfriend, Mark Leonard, spearheaded the plot. The 47-year-old Leonard was convicted last year of murder, arson and other charges and sentenced to two life sentences without parole, plus 75 years.

Leonard has appealed his convictions. His 57-year-old half brother, Bob Leonard, was convicted in February of murder, arson and other charges and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole, plus 70 years.

Shirley, 51, pleaded guilty in January 2015 to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson. Her cooperation led to charges against Hults and another man, Gary Thompson, who pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit arson.

Shirley and Thompson are scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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