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Judge: Man Accused of Delphi Murders Cannot Get Fair Jury in That County 

Richard Allen mugshot

Richard M. Allen (Indiana State Police)

The man charged in the murders of two young girls in Delphi, Indiana, appeared in court on Friday where a specially appointed state judge rejected his request to have the high-profile trial moved to a different jurisdiction, but ordered that members of the jury must be selected from outside of the county.

The ruling provides the defendant with effectively the same result as if the motion had been granted, a criminal defense attorney who attended the hearing told Law&Crime.

Special Judge Fran C. Gull denied a change of venue motion filed by the attorneys representing Richard M. Allen, 50, seeking to have the proceedings removed from Carroll County. Allen is facing two counts of murder in the twin 2017 slayings of Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, and her friend Liberty “Libby” German, 14, whose bodies were discovered in a wooded area just off of the Delphi Historic Trails system.

Liberty German and Abigail Williams. (Images via the FBI).

Liberty ‘Libby’ German and Abigail ‘Abby’ Williams (FBI).

Judge Gull reasoned that moving the case out of Carroll County would be unfeasible due to the number of witnesses who live locally that are scheduled to testify in the case. She additionally noted that moving the trial to a different jurisdiction would be extremely expensive.

However, Gull also concluded that it would be nearly impossible to select a non-bias jury in Carroll County, reasoning that most of its approximately 20,000 residents have been involved, affected, or intensely followed the case in some respect.

Ultimately, Gull ruled that the proceedings will continue to take place in Carroll County, but with a jury comprised of individuals who reside elsewhere, giving the opposing parties one week to decide on a suitable county from which jurors can be selected.

Bob Motta, a criminal defense attorney and host of the true crime podcast “Defense Diaries,” attended Friday’s hearing and told Law&Crime that while the motion for a literal change in venue was denied, the judge’s ruling “technically granted” the request.

“The change of venue was technically granted, because they’re sourcing the jury pool out of the county,” Motta said. “They’ll go to the the outsourced county for jury selection and then have those individuals brought in and sequestered in Carroll County for the duration of the trial. It’s the same thing they did with [John Wayne] Gacy in 1978.”

The judge’s reasoning was directly on-point under the circumstances, according to Motta, because holding the trial in a different jurisdiction is extremely difficult logistically and “would’ve cost a fortune.”

“Essentially, what you’re doing is taking the entire trial and bringing it somewhere else, everything from bailiffs, guards, and witnesses – and you’re basically just using the other county’s building,” Motta said.

Judge Gull’s order has the effect of “changing venue without ever having to change the courthouse,” Motta explained. He also emphasized that such an order was crucial for the case overall because it “would be impossible to get an impartial jury” in such a small community where the case has had such a huge impact on its citizens.

Abby and Libby vanished while walking the Monon High Bridge Trail near Delphi, Indiana, on Feb. 13, 2017. The trail traverses an abandoned stretch of what once was the Monon Railroad and crosses an old trestle over a small river or creek. The girls were found dead the next day in an area near the trestle.

Authorities have alleged that an unspent bullet they claim was likely ejected from Richard Allen’s handgun was found near the girls’ bodies, but the science used to make such comparisons is scientifically shaky. A redacted copy of a probable cause affidavit concedes that comparisons between the bullet and Allen’s gun are “subjective in nature.” Law&Crime previously reported that some courts have strictly limited the use of such comparisons because they do not meet the standard used in those jurisdictions regarding the reliability of scientific evidence or expert testimony.

Gull ordered ruled that a gag order previously issued in December that bars those involved in case from releasing non-procedural information to the public will remain in place. That order was issued in response to a three-page press release from Allen’s attorneys, Brad Rozzi and Andrew J. Baldwin. 

The release claimed Allen, who was arrested and charged with the girls’ murders in October 2022, came forward to law enforcement in 2017 on his own volition and revealed that he was walking on the trestle the day the girls vanished.  The attorneys characterized Allen’s decision to speak with the constabulary on his own volition as one of several signs of his “innocence.”

“After Rick shared his information with law enforcement officials, he went back to his job at the local CVS and didn’t hear from the police for more than 5 years,” the defense attorneys wrote. “In the 5+ years since Rick volunteered to provide information to the police, Rick did not get rid of his vehicle or his guns and did not throw out his clothing. He did not alter his appearance; he did not relocate himself to another community. He did what any innocent man would do and continued with his normal routine.”

The release further asserted that Allen’s arrest may have been the result of a political race for the position of sheriff in the jurisdiction where the crime allegedly occurred.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.