CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. – An evidence leak, legal filings and the removal of the original court-appointed defense team spelled another delay in the Delphi murder case.
Attorneys for Richard Allen filed a motion for a continuance to delay the proceedings. The trial had been scheduled for January 2024.
Allen’s new attorneys indicated it would be “impossible” to meet the January trial date, given the amount of discovery material they have to review.
The state had no objection to the motion, according to the filing. Special Judge Fran Gull, who’d earlier expressed skepticism at meeting the January date, pushed Allen’s trial back, setting a new date of October 2024. The trial is set to take place between Oct. 15 and Nov. 1, 2024.
Allen, charged with two counts of murder in the February 2017 deaths of Abby Williams and Libby German near the Monon High Bridge, appeared Tuesday with his new court-appointed attorneys, Robert Scremin and William S. Lebrato.
During the hearing, Gull officially removed Allen’s former court-appointed defense team, Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin, from the case.
Unlike the brief Oct. 19 hearing, no cameras were allowed in the courtroom for Tuesday’s proceedings, which started 45 minutes late and lasted about 15 minutes.
Tuesday’s hearing marked one year to the day that Indiana State Police announced Allen’s arrest in connection with girls’ deaths.
Chaotic legal maneuvering
Chaos has engulfed the case since September, when Baldwin and Rozzi filed a motion seeking a Franks hearing to challenge the search warrant. Such a hearing can be requested when the defendant believes investigators included a false statement—knowingly, intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth—in order to justify and obtain a search warrant.
They accused Tony Liggett, the current Carroll County sheriff, of misleading the judge and withholding certain information to get the warrant approved.
Their memorandum in support of the Franks hearing also outlined an alternative murder theory—that the girls were killed in “ritualistic” fashion by adherents of a white supremacist cult called “Odinism.”
Prosecutor Nick McLeland called the theory “fanciful defense for social media to devour.” He described the defense team’s 136-page memorandum as “colorful, dramatic and highly unprofessional.”
The filing touched off a flurry of legal maneuvering, with the defense alleging misconduct on the part of investigators. Allen’s attorneys also asked the court to set a Nov. 1 deadline for all discovery evidence to be turned over.
Evidence leak, contentious removal of counsel
But it was an evidence leak earlier in October that threw the case into complete disarray. A former employee of Baldwin’s obtained evidence, including crime scene photos, and disseminated them to someone else. The evidence ended up on social media; the person to whom the photos were provided took his own life after Indiana State Police questioned him about the leak.
The revelation led Gull to call an Oct. 19 hearing in Allen County. Cameras were allowed in the courtroom for the proceedings, which were delayed by about 30 minutes. Gull then announced an “unexpected turn of events” and revealed that Allen’s attorneys had withdrawn from the case.
In a later filing, Rozzi disputed having withdrawn, setting off another legal back-and-forth that called for Gull’s removal. Eventually, Allen filed a brief asking the Indiana Supreme Court to review Gull’s handling of the case. The state’s highest court set a Nov. 9 deadline for materials to be submitted in that matter.
Baldwin and Rozzi were included among Allen’s representation Tuesday, with court records indicating their status as “pro bono” in the case. Gull, however, reiterated Tuesday morning that both attorneys were officially off the case.