Defense attorneys in Delphi murders case announce withdrawal, new trial date to be set
51-year-old Richard M. Allen was arrested in October 2022 in connection with the 2017 killing of two teenage girls in Delphi
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - A high-profile hearing in the Delphi double murders case was cut short after defense attorneys announced their intentions to withdraw from the case.
Nearly one year after an arrest was made in the 2017 killings of two teens in Delphi, suspect Richard Allen appeared in the Allen County Courthouse for a 2 p.m. hearing.
Allen was arrested on Oct. 28, 2022, on two charges of murder in the 2017 killings of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13. The two girls went missing while hiking on Feb. 13, 2017. Their bodies were found the next day in a heavily wooded area near the trail by the Monon High Bridge.
On Tuesday, the special judge appointed in the case, Judge Fran Gull of Allen County, issued an order to allow pool media coverage of the Thursday hearing. Judge Gull ordered the hearing to discuss “the upcoming hearing on October 31, 2023, and other matters which have recently arisen.”
Courthouse security created a barrier to help form a line outside of the courthouse. Once the doors opened at 8 a.m., members of the public and the media were let inside and then formed a line outside of the courtroom. Over the next few hours, more than a hundred people gathered in the hall.
Security did a sweep of the courtroom and let the public in an hour before the hearing was scheduled to take place. The courtroom filled up quickly, with three rows saved for the families of Libby German and Abby Williams. Only two seats were taken by Allen’s family.
Several Allen County and Fort Wayne police officers stood around the room as extra security. Just before the hearing was scheduled to start, more law enforcement entered the room and took a seat behind the defense table. The members of law enforcement included Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter and officers from of Delphi and Carrol County. The room went silent.
After 2, Allen’s defense attorney Anthony Rozzi entered the courtroom, taking Allen’s family out soon after. They did not return. Allen’s other defense attorney Andrew Baldwin never entered the courtroom but could be seen walking back and forth in the hallway.
Two cameras were placed at either end of the jury box. Those cameras did not go on until the court officer asked for the room to rise for the judge nearly 30 minutes after the hearing was scheduled to take place.
Judge Gull took her seat and said Allen’s defense attorney, Andrew Baldwin, has filed a motion to withdraw himself as counsel on the case. She said she expects his other attorney, Anthony Rozzi, to file a similar request in the coming days.
Since Allen had no representation, Judge Gull ended the hearing after just a few minutes. Allen never entered the courtroom.
“I’d like to set a new trial date obviously, I don’t believe counsel will be prepared within the next couple of months to try a case of this magnitude in January, so we’ll set dates for the trial,” Judge Gull said. “I think we need to set a date as well for the suppression hearing that was filed now by former counsel.”
She said the attorneys have been ordered to provide all discovery back to the State, which will then be turned over to his next attorneys.
21Alive’s Amis Abbas spoke with a legal expert to get reaction about Thursday’s developments. You can watch the full court hearing and conversation with IU Law’s Jody Madeira below.
Abigail “Abby” Williams and Liberty “Libby” German went missing while hiking near the Monon High Bridge on the afternoon of Feb. 13, 2017. When family members went to pick them up later that day, the girls were nowhere to be found.
The family called the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department for help, leading to a search for the girls. The Delphi Fire Chief announced the next day that volunteer searchers had found the girl’s bodies.
On Feb. 15, Indiana State Police (ISP) released a pixelated photo of a man they believed was on the trail at the same time the teens were, naming him a prime suspect in their killing.
Later that month, investigators released audio from Libby’s cellphone of a man saying, “Down the hill,” looped below.
Then in July, ISP detectives shared a composite sketch of the suspect, leading to a barrage of tips pouring in.
On April 22, 2019, ISP held a press conference on the investigation and released an updated sketch of the suspect. The new sketch showed a younger man with curly hair and no facial hair, shown below.
Investigators also released extended audio of the suspect that was found on Libby’s phone.
Police said tips continued to pour in, but no arrests were made.
Then in December 2021, detectives with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana State Police said they found an undercover profile under the name of “anthony_shots.” Police said they believed the person who ran the account, later identified as Kegan Kline, communicated with Libby shortly before the killings.
Kline was questioned by police but denied any involvement in the girl’s deaths.
A major breakthrough in the case came on Oct. 28, 2022, when ISP announced they arrested Richard Allen in the murders.
Police waited to release additional information until a press conference the following Monday, Oct. 31. ISP Superintendent Carter said he believed Allen was the man on the bridge and the man who was seen in Libby’s Snapchat video.
Allen was charged with two counts of murder. However, probable cause documents in the case were sealed.
Judge Fran Gull of Allen County was then appointed as the special judge in the case after Carroll County judge Benjamin Diener recused himself.
On Nov. 14, 2022, the court appointed public defenders Anthony Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin as Allen’s defense team. The attorneys pushed for the court documents in the case to be released, saying they were “not impressed” with the lack of evidence in the documents.
A couple of weeks later, Judge Gull ordered redacted court documents to be publicly released.
At the end of January, Judge Gull ruled that a jury be brought in from Allen County for Allen’s trial but said she thinks it is “important” to try the case in Carroll County.
On June 28, 2023, Judge Gull released 118 of the previously-sealed documents. The documents say prosecutors claim Allen called his wife and admitted “several times” that he killed the girls.
In the same document, the defense challenges the treatment of Richard Allen as “unconstitutional” while incarcerated. They argue it directly led to his poor mental health.
In the following months, Allen’s defense team submitted a filing outlining why they believed the girls were “ritualistically sacrificed” and accused lead detectives of ignoring or intentionally suppressing that evidence for years.
In October, two podcasters, Áine Cane and Kevin Greenlee of the “Murder Sheet” podcast, claimed they received crime scene photos that had not been released to the public. Allen’s legal team is accused of leaking the photos.
Indiana State Police tell us they are investigating the leak but have yet to comment on the matter.
On Oct. 19, the defense filed a memo regarding the evidence leak. They admitted the leak was related to them, but blamed it on a third party who took things from one of the lawyers’ offices.
They argue it would harm the case to remove them.
Allen’s 15-day jury trial is currently set to begin on January 8, 2024. That trial is expected to be delayed. Thursday, Judge Gull did keep the Oct. 31 hearing on the calendar. That hearing will be held at the Carroll County Courthouse. The hope is that a new attorney will be appointed to represent Allen by that hearing.
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