DELPHI — Richard Allen has made "admissions of guilt" to more than one person about his involvement in the deaths of Liberty German and Abigail Williams, according to Carroll County Prosecutor Nicolas McCleland.
"He made multiple confessions to multiple people," McCleland said during Allen's hearing on Thursday.
Allen's attorney acknowledged the confessions, saying Allen had made "incriminating statements" while at Westville Correctional Facility. He also claimed those statements should not be trusted because of his client's mental state.
“Confessions, non-confessions, incriminating statements, non-incriminating statements, we’ll deal with that," Allen's attorney Brad Rozzi said. "The jury will hear all of that.”
Allen arrived at the Carroll County Courthouse on Thursday wearing a yellow jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him. His face was shaven and those in attendance noted that he appeared to have lost additional weight since his last court appearance.
Allen’s wife was among the crowd gathered inside the courtroom.
“He’s my person,” she whispered to WRTV’s Kaitlyn Kendall before the hearing began.
Allen’s trial is set to take place Jan. 8 through Jan. 26, 2024.
Special Judge Fran Gull was set to hear multiple arguments in the case on Thursday, including whether to move Allen to a different facility and whether key ballistic evidence could be used during the upcoming trial.
Gull began the hearing by tabling the discussion on the ballistics evidence, which will now be heard at a different date.
She also announced that several additional documents would be unsealed sometime early next week. The exact documents and date of the unsealing was not given.
Thursday’s hearing focused on the defense and prosecution’s arguments on whether Allen should be moved to a different facility for housing before his trial.
Testimony was heard from several witnesses supporting the defense’s argument to move Allen to a new facility, and also regarding his mental state.
That state's testimony included several mentions of “admissions” that Allen had allegedly made on at least five or six occasions regarding his involvement in the 2017 killings of Liberty German and Abigail Williams.
Both the defense and the prosecuting attorney admitted knowledge of these conversations. The defense argued that due to Allen’s mental and physical state, due to his current housing situation, those “admissions” should not be trusted. It was not made clear exactly what type of admissions Allen had made.
Allen was arrested in Oct. 2022, and is charged with felony murder in the deaths of Libby and Abby.
Allen has been housed at the Westville Correctional Facility since November 2022, when he was transferred into the state's custody for "safekeeping" at the request of Tobe Leazenby, who was the Carroll County Sheriff at the time. That order, which was approved the same day, stated that the "public's blood lust for information" was dangerous and that Allen was in danger as well as those who were guarding him.
In an emergency motion filed April 5, Allen’s defense team claimed their client had suffered poor conditions while being held at Westville, which is a maximum-security prison.
His attorneys argued that they had secured a space at the Cass County Jail, which would put him closer to his attorneys and his family. Carroll County Prosecutor Nicolas McCleland had no objection to Allen being moved, according to the order, although the Carroll County Sheriff’s Dept. declined the request.
In their April filing, Allen’s attorneys included two photographs as evidence to support their argument that housing Allen at Westville was impacting his mental and emotional health.
One of the main arguments from Allen’s attorneys on Thursday was that Westville had never housed inmates before their trial, and that everyone currently being held there has been convicted of a crime.
Allen's attorney says that they want Allen to be treated like any other pre-trial defendant.
They argued he has no privacy at Westville and that they have spent all of their time trying to get him housed in better conditions, so they have not been able to focus on the case and their defense.
“We’re asking for basic human rights, we’re not asking to put him in the Holiday Inn,” Attorney Brad Rozzi said.
He says he has spent a significant amount of time trying to get access to the facility and build their case to get Allen moved.
“I think they’re tired of me, and I don’t blame them,” Rozzi said. “But I have a job to do.”
During the first half of the hearing on Thursday, the defense called four witnesses to the stand to give their testimony of Allen’s current conditions and the possibility of moving him to Cass County: Chief Deputy Tobe Leazenby with the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Max Baker, an intern for attorney Bradley Rozzi’s office, Gary Lewis from Westville Correctional Facility and Cass County Sheriff Ed Shroder.
Leazenby testified that the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office is unable to house Allen, because of the pressure it would put on their office. He argued that Allen would have to be housed with the general population at their jail, because they have a small staff compared.
Cass County Sheriff Ed Shroder told the judge that he believes his facility could handle housing Allen.
“I don’t want him, but we could handle him," Schroder said on the stands.
Shroder explained that Cass County would have resources available to Allen, including mental health care, and said they had recently added 150 beds to their jail facility.
He says the defense would be able to meet with Allen through plexiglass and his family could speak with him through video chat if he was housed at their jail.
The prosecution called two witnesses, Carroll County Sheriff Tony Liggett and John Galipeau during the second half of Thursday's hearing.
Liggett testified to the size of his department and their inability to properly house and watch Allen in Carroll County.
“Our jail is extremely small,” Liggett said.
He argued manpower and safety concerns, saying they would need assistance from other agencies if Allen was transferred back to them. The sheriff’s office only has five full time deputies and one jail commander, according to Liggett.
Galipeau testified to Allen’s conditions at the Westville Correctional Facility.
He explained that while it was evident that Allen had lost weight, he had been eating, showering and utilizing recreation time at the prison.
Allen is housed in A-pod, according to Galipeau, which is the same cell he has been in since the day he arrived at the facility. That cell was described as being 12’ by 8.5’ and is in the segregated, maximum-security section of the prison.
Because of his location, Allen has been on watch since the day he arrived and due to his additional ‘suicide watch’ status, he has 24-hour surveillance video (without audio), according to Galipeau. He is also on companion watch, which means that someone – either an inmate or a guard – stands outside of his cell 24 hours per day.
Allen is allowed three showers per week and three sets of clothing. He also has access to commissary, where he has bought clothing, socks and shoes, Galipeau told the judge. He also has a tablet, which accesses music, movies and phone calls and he is afforded 1 hour of recreation time, five times per week.
Galipeau says there have been no known threats to Allen or the facility since he arrived back in November and that the reports, he has received from Allen’s medical providers on staff has been in the healthy ranges the entire time he has been housed with them.
He testified that Allen started exhibiting “strange behavior” the day after he was given legal work, although he did not go into detail on the behavior or what that work was.
Gull issued a temporary restraining order for the DOC while Allen’s attorneys are meeting with him. She plans to take the arguments under advisement and will make a ruling on whether or not he will be moved out of Westville at a later date.