Attorneys for Richard Matthew Allen, the man charged with murdering Liberty “Libby” German, 14 and Abigail “Abby” Williams, 13, want the case moved out of Carroll County, Indiana. They argued that constant media coverage, local attention, and law enforcement activity surrounding the 2017 Delphi Murders created a high possibility of a tainted jury pool.
“Although it could be argued that the amount of publicity that this particular case has received in the past 5+ years will make it difficult to find a jury that has not heard of this case, Richard Allen’s defense team has gleaned statistical data that would strongly indicate that moving the case/trial just 150 miles away would significantly reduce the likelihood of obtaining a tainted jury pool,” said the filing dated Monday.
Someone abducted German and Williams after the girls went out walking the Monon High Bridge Trail near the city on Feb. 13, 2017. Then, as Libby German secretly recorded, an apparent suspect ordered them “down the hill.”
These girls’ deaths rocked the small city of Delphi, Indiana. The seat of Carroll County had about 20,444 people in it, according to a U.S. Census estimate from 2021. Attorney for Allen, 50, argued that Carroll County-based searches for their client on Google number in the thousands.
“During the month of October, the search for ‘Richard Allen’ in Carroll County ranged between 1,000 and 10,000 searches for a county with just over 20,000 residents,” they said.
They compared searches within Carroll County to the city of Fort Wayne in Allen County, saying that the latter has thirteen times the population but still roughly the same range of searches for Allen.
The defense argument, in sum and substance, says Carroll County is such a small and tight-knit community that there is a high likelihood that someone living there has a) searched for and read about the case, b) participated in the initial search for the girls, c) was questioned in the investigation, or (d) knew someone connected to the case. In addition, Allen worked at the local CVS, and was likely to have been in close contact with many people, the defense argued.
“While it is impossible for the defense to accurately predict (having received only minimal discovery), it is likely that the law enforcement investigation has conducted possibly hundreds of interviews of potential witnesses and other community members that may or may not have information regarding the crime,” Allen’s lawyers said. “Again, the raw number of people in the Carroll County community directly or indirectly involved with the investigation, juxtaposed with the small number of residents in Carroll County, render it impossible to find jurors without connection to the case or to someone involved in the case or without pre-conceived notions about Richard Allen’s guilt or innocence.”
As previously reported, Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin A. Diener recused himself after complaining about the pressure and public scrutiny of the case. A new judge from outside the county has taken over.
Allen had also said that his wife “has had to abandon” their home for “her own safety.”
His attorney Andrew J. Baldwin criticized the state’s sealed arrest affidavit as “flimsy.”
County Prosecutor Nick McLeland reportedly argued, on the other hand, that the state has a strong case.
“The Carroll County Prosecutor’s Office appreciates the Judge hearing our arguments yesterday morning and looks forward to her ruling,” he reportedly said. “As I stated in court yesterday, we strongly believe the evidence shows Richard Allen was involved in the murder of Libby and Abby. Because the investigation is ongoing and given the intense public interest in the case, we think it would be best if the documents remain sealed. Regardless of the ruling, we believe we have a very solid case against Mr. Allen and look forward to making our argument in trial.”
Read the motion here.
[Images of the victims via the FBI. Image of the suspect via the Indiana State Police.]
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