DELPHI — Richard Allen was escorted into the Carroll County Courtroom wearing a yellow jumpsuit and a bulletproof vest. His arms were bound and his legs were shackled as he made his way to his seat before the judge.
It was a packed house where Special Judge Fran Gull heard both sides of the argument on whether to unseal the probable cause documents in Allen's arrest for the killings of Liberty German and Abigail Williams.
Law enforcement officers were stationed around the courtroom, seated behind Allen and outside the courthouse doors.
"Substantial risk to the state and public"
The first arguments came from Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland.
Representing the state, McLeland requested that the documents remain sealed, citing for the first time the possibility that there may be others involved in Libby and Abby's deaths.
“We have good reason to believe that Allen was not alone. That there could be other actors," McLeland told the judge.
He argued that the Delphi investigation, due to its national and international attention, offers "extraordinary" circumstances and unsealing the documents not only puts the state and the public at "substantial risk", but the ongoing proceedings as well.
McLeland also argued that information within the probable cause, including testimony from Indiana State Police, and named witnesses who were juveniles at the time, could both hinder the investigation and put those witnesses at risk.
"Media harasses and bombards anyone who will be mentioned in those documents," McLeland argued. Going on to cite what he calls the "extended length" the media has gone to get the information within those documents and how even the former judge, Carroll County Judge Benjamin Diener, recused himself because of the overwhelming amount of attention the case has caused.
At the end of his argument, McLeland also presented the judge with a redacted copy of the probable cause, which he says removes the names of witnesses for their protection - should she decide to release it.
On Wednesday, McLeland provided the following statement via email:
"The Carroll County Prosecutor's office appreciates the Judge hearing our arguments yesterday morning and looks forward to her ruling. 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 this case, we think it would be best if the documents remain sealed. Regardless, we believe we have a very solid case against Mr. Allen and look forward to making our argument in trial.'
"Truths and facts"
"How can you talk about law and facts when things are sealed? It makes no practical sense," Bradley Rozzi testified before the judge.
Rozzi, one of the public defenders representing Richard Allen, presented their side of the arguments to unseal the documents in the Delphi case.
Citing transparency as one of the main reasons for their push, Rozzi told the judge their client has "nothing to hide".
Allen's attorneys called the information contained in the probable cause "flimsy", saying they want the public to see the "truth and facts" about the case, what investigators have gathered and "where their tax dollars have gone" over the past five years.
"How can police hold public press conferences asking for the public to help and then turn around and say 'we don't want you to see these documents'," Rozzi said.
They also refuted the possibility of another person being involved, calling it "total conjecture" and saying they had not received any information supporting the claim.
As far as the argument that releasing the documents would put those involved at risk, or that Judge Diener's claim of being "threatened" they argued that no evidence was available to support that either.
"There was no evidence of real credible threats that have been made," Rozzi said.
When will we get a decision?
Gull ended the hearing by saying she would review both sides of the argument and make a written ruling at a later date.
She also set Allen's bond hearing from Feb. 17, 2023 at 10 a.m.
When Indiana State Police announced they had arrested Richard Allen, 50, on October 31, they had already filled the petition to seal any documents in the case from the public eye.
According to court records, Allen was taken into custody on October 26, but wasn't charged with murder until October 28, the same day court filings show that Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland filed the request to seal the records.
WRTV, along with multiple other media outlets, filed records requests for all documents that would be publicly available in court against a defendant once charges have been formally filed. Those requests were denied.
Following the media onslaught, the Carroll County judge originally assigned to oversee the case against Allen recused himself citing the "public bloodlust for information". Judge Benjamin Diener's order called the public's desire to learn about the case and access court records "inherently disruptive" and dangerous for public servants working in the court system.
Allen County Judge Fran Gull was appointed to serve as the special judge over the case.
HAPPENING NOW | Delphi murder suspect Richard Allen has just arrived at the courthouse in Carroll County flanked by nearly a dozen officers as he was escorted inside. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. https://t.co/uLdsQVGXyG #DelphiMurders #Delphi pic.twitter.com/z1ootoSspU— WRTV Indianapolis (@wrtv) November 22, 2022
A line outside the Carrol county courthouse has started. People tell me they have been here since as early as 4:15. pic.twitter.com/mFSg0PiRJU— Kaitlyn Kendall (@KaitlynReports) November 22, 2022
Allen, who has lived in the Delphi community for at least 16 years, has been charged with two counts of murder.
Before recusing himself, Diener filed an order Thursday morning approving the transfer of Allen out of the Carroll County Sheriff's custody and into state custody for safety reasons.
Allen had previously requested that the court provide him with a public defender, claiming his financial circumstances did not allow him to hire private counsel.
Allen's letter to the court states that Allen indicated at an Oct. 28 initial hearing that he would hire private counsel. It adds, "However, at the time I had no clue how expensive it would be just to talk to someone."
On Monday, Nov. 21 Allen's court appointed lawyers requested a bail hearing for their client.
Bradley Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin, co-representing Allen, asked that Allen be released on his own recognizance or to have a reasonable bail set.