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Attorney: Delphi murder suspect breaking down from ‘prisoner of war’ conditions
Emergency motion asks to move Richard Allen from state prison to a county jail as he awaits trial on 2017 murders of Delphi teens Abby Williams and Libby German
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As of Friday morning, there was no word in court records whether Richard Allen, a 50-year-old Delphi man accused in the 2017 murders of teens Libby German and Abby Williams, would be moved from the state’s Westville Correctional Facility to the Cass County Jail as he awaits trial.
This week, Allen’s attorneys filed an emergency motion to get him out of a prison conditions they contended were “akin to those of a prisoner of war.”
In the filing, attorney Brad Rozzi told the court the pre-trial setting had taken a drastic toll on Allen’s physical and mental state since he was sent to Westville in early November and amounted to “a deliberate attempt to impose conditions” meant to make it difficult to prepare his defense “and create a hardship on him which would drive any human to mental breakdown.”
In the filing, Rozzi contended that Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland didn’t oppose the requested move and that Cass County – a Carroll County neighbor, with its jail in Logansport 20 miles from the courthouse in Delphi – was prepared to house Allen. Rozzi wrote that the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, which originally requested to take Allen to the state prison as a safekeeping measure, objected.
In court documents, attorneys included a picture taken in the past week of a gaunt Allen in prison, compared with a photo taken a year or two before he was arrested, to illustrate his physical condition.
“Here,” Rozzi wrote about Allen’s assignment to Westville, “Mr. Allen is being punished to the fullest extent of the law … punished based only on the merits of untested charging information and probable cause affidavit.”
In early November, days after Allen was charged, former Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby asked the court to allow him to move Allen – first held Oct. 26 in the Carroll County Jail in Delphi before being moved to the White County Jail in Monticello – to a state prison “for safekeeping.” Leazenby said at the time that the high-profile case created “potential safety and security concerns because of extensive coverage from an array of various media platforms, both mainstream and social, throughout the state, the United States and the world.”
In his order, Carroll Circuit Judge Benjamin Diener wrote that the move had nothing to do with Allen, “rather a toxic and harmful insistence on ‘public information’ about Defendant and this case.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Abby and Libby, eighth-graders at Delphi Community Middle School, were killed Feb. 13, 2017, while on the town’s Monon High Bridge Trail. That day, Libby and Abby had taken advantage of a day off school and an unseasonably warm, winter afternoon to hike Delphi’s trails, taking off near the Freedom Bridge over Indiana 25/Hoosier Heartland Highway. When the girls didn’t show up that evening to meet their ride home, family and friends combed Delphi’s popular trail system, crossed an abandoned rail trestle called Monon High Bridge and brought in people to walk the woods that lined Deer Creek. The next morning, Feb. 14, 2017, a group of volunteers in a search party found the girls’ bodies, about a half-mile upstream from the Monon High Bridge.
Before he was arrested, Allen worked at the town’s CVS store during an investigation that had been going on for more than five years and included posters and flyers with suspect sketches and tip line phone numbers on windows across the community.
The prosecutor’s probable cause affidavit, filed with charges against Allen, tie the suspect to the scene through his own admission about being on the Monon High Bridge that day, owning clothing similar to that worn by a man seen on the bridge in video shot on Libby’s phone and the discovery of an unspent bullet found at the scene that investigators say has the markings from a gun found at Allen’s home.
Allen’s attorneys have portrayed the evidence in the probable cause as weak. (Read: “‘Magic bullet’ not a smoking gun in Delphi murders, attorneys say”)
Both sides are under a gag order, preventing them from saying more outside court or court documents. But in this week’s filing, Rozzi wrote that “nearly 3,000 pages of law enforcement reports” need to be review, along with “thousands of hours of surveillance video and video interviews of potential suspects, witnesses and other interested parties.”
“Reasonable access to Mr. Allen is necessary as he is needed to assist with the process of reviewing discovery,” Rozzi wrote. “His current detention situation does not provide this convenience.”
One reason: Logistics, both in the drive to Westville – 82 miles from Delphi – and in what Rozzi called the inability to share confidential and sensitive information with Allen’s “segregation and isolation” of being assigned to a separate maximum security unit “wherein the most dangerous offenders are held.”
Rozzi wrote that he was denied a chance to see Allen’s cell. But he wrote in court documents that Allen “has been entombed in a cell” that is 6-by-10-feet, “a space no large than that of a dog kennel.” He said Allen was sleeping on a mat on a concrete floor, allowed to shower one or two times a week and no access to visits from his wife or family. Rozzi also wrote that nearly 1,000 pages of police reports delivered to Allen March 24 still had not reached him, as of April 3.
Rozzi also wrote that Allen was slipping mentally, showing a “steep decline” in demeanor and his ability to comprehend and assist in his defense.
“Simply put, this version of Richard Allen was a very different version than counsel for Mr. Allen had interacted with over the past five months,” Rozzi wrote. “Mr. Allen appeared to be suffering from various psychotic symptoms which counsel would describe as schizophrenic and delusional. Counsel further believes that in our April 4, 202,3 interaction, Mr. Allen seems to be suffering from memory loss and is demonstrating an overall inability to communicate rationally with counsel and family members.”
Special Judge Fran Gull, assigned to the case from Allen County, set a hearing for June 15 in Carroll Circuit Court, with an additional day on June 16, if needed, to hear arguments about whether to grant Allen bail. The parties are expected to discuss a potential trial date in June, as well. Allen’s attorneys said they’d be hard pressed to get that done this year, given the amount of information prosecutors have collected.
FOR MORE ON THE INVESTIGATION: The Indiana State Police maintains a site with composite sketches, audio and video files, along with reward information, in the 2017 murders of Abby Williams and Libby German. Go to: www.in.gov/isp/delphi.htm
OTHER READS …
Ban on local conversion therapy bans: WBAA reporter Ben Thorp had an update on a bill – one that would stop cities from trying to ban unlicensed counseling – inspired by a debate in West Lafayette over a proposed ban on conversion therapy by unlicensed therapists. Senate Bill 350 cleared the Indiana House on a party-line vote and heads back to the Senate for another vote, due to some language changes in the House version. The bill follows one of the most contentious local fights in recent years, when a West Lafayette City Council member’s proposed ordinance that would have imposed $1,000-a-day fines on unlicensed therapists who worked in conversion therapy tactics – ones attempting to get a gay or lesbian teen to reject that identity – on those younger than 18. The debate dragged out for months, with religious leaders – led by those at Lafayette-based Faith Church – who said the effort was a First Amendment broadside aimed at church counseling services. Lawsuits were threatened. The mayor promised a veto. And the city council eventually took a step back in February 2022, instead passing a resolution that asked state lawmakers to consider a statewide ban on conversion therapy. (Here’s a story as that episode wrapped up: “Lawsuit looming, choice words flowing, WL City Council withdraws conversion therapy ordinance.”) Thorp reported on where the bill stands now, as it looks to keep city councils in check on this one. Here’s his story at WBAA: “Bill effectively blocking bans on conversion therapy moving through the legislature.”
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