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Prosecutors Suggest There May Be A Second Suspect During Delphi Murders Hearing
During a hearing to decide whether to release the documents that led to the arrest of Richard Allen for the 2017 murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, prosecutors offered a surprising revelation.
A judge tasked with deciding whether or not she will allow the publication of a sealed probable cause affidavit in a high-profile double murder case remains undecided — even after prosecutors suggested their could be another suspect in the case.
Parties convened at the Carroll County Courthouse on Tuesday for a hearing about murder suspect Richard M. Allen, 50, who is charged in the 2017 murders of Abigail “Abby" Williams, 13, and Liberty “Libby” German, 14, Fox Indianapolis affiliate WXIN reported.
During the 30-minute hearing, special Judge Fran Gull — who replaced Carroll Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Diener in the case after he recused himself — was asked to decide whether the probable cause statement that led to Allen's arrest would be released to the public.
Allen, who is housed at an undisclosed state facility for his own protection, appeared at the courthouse wearing a jumpsuit and bulletproof vest, according to ABC News. He was arrested on Oct. 28 and pleaded not guilty to charges related to the murders of the girls, whose bodies were found in a wooded area in Delphi, Indiana, one day after the pair disappeared from a hiking trail on Feb. 13, 2017.
The girls' causes of death have never been released.
The case gained considerable media coverage after authorities released a video from German’s cell phone, taken at the time of the pair’s disappearance. In the video, viewers can see a man — now believed to be Allen — walking in their direction, saying, “Guys, down the hill.”
Gull heard arguments from Carroll County prosecutor Nicholas McLeland, who hopes to keep the documents sealed for, among other reasons, the safety of both Allen and his wife, according to ABC News. In support of his argument, McLeland provided a letter from Becky Patty, German’s grandmother and guardian.
"We want to be able to have a fair trial for the defendant and for the prosecution,” Patty previously told ABC Indianapolis affiliate WRTV. “If our prosecutor feels that it’s necessary to seal these documents for the time being, then I believe in him.”
In one of the more shocking aspects of Tuesday’s hearing, McLeland said it was essential to keep the documents confidential because they believe Allen didn’t act alone in the murders, according to NBC Indianapolis affiliate WTHR.
McLeland offered nothing further to explain the theory.
According to ABC News, investigators are still appealing for information about the double murder, though so far, Allen is the only person ever charged in connection with the case.
How investigators narrowed in on Allen as a suspect still remains unknown, which is why there is so much interest in the probable cause affidavit. His name seemingly never came up in earlier stages of the investigation, though his home was less than two miles from where Abby and Libby disappeared.
Allen's lawyers, however, support the release of the full affidavit.
McLeland provided the judge with a redacted version, which Allen's lawyer Andrew Baldwin referred to as “flimsy,” adding that people might expect there to be “more than what I saw,” according to the ABC affiliate.
“Our client is the wrong guy,” Baldwin told WTHR-TV reporters outside the courtroom.
One of Allen’s other recently-appointed defense attorneys, Bradley Rozzi, claimed the public’s access to the documents might be beneficial to the case, according to ABC News. He also suggested that the secrecy surrounding the files was a factor in why the case gained so much attention in the first place.
Some, including Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, claimed that the release of documents would not hinder the ongoing investigation, according to WXIN.
Gull said she will take the motion under advisement and make a final decision at a later date that has yet to be scheduled, according to WHTR.
On Tuesday, McLeland also filed a motion requesting a gag order to prohibit “parties, counsel, law enforcement officials, court personnel, coroner and family members” from releasing details about the case, WXIN reported.
Baldwin, meanwhile, argued for a bail hearing for his client; Gull scheduled it for Feb. 17, 2023, according to WTHR-TV. Allen’s pre-trial hearing, which was originally scheduled for January, will occur the same day.
The trial is expected to begin on March 20.