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Delphi murders suspect to return to court, this time with cameras inside

The Allen County courthouse is shown In July 2023 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Provided Photo/Google Street View)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) — The suspect in the Delphi murders case will have a status hearing Thursday afternoon in Fort Wayne, and reporters and their cameras are expected to converge at the historic courthouse to gather information.

Richard M. Allen, of Delphi, was arrested on Oct. 28 and later charged with the February 2017 murders of 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German near the Monon High Bridge, part of a pedestrian trail in Delphi. Their bodies were found Feb. 14, 2017, in a rugged, heavily wooded area near the trail.

The special judge, Frances Gull from Allen County, has agreed for the first time to allow cameras in the courtroom for a hearing in Allen’s case because it’s “generated substantial public interest and media attention,” she wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.

Indiana on May 1 allowed courts to begin allowing cameras in hearings. The cameras are limited to proceedings that are not confidential and that are approved by the judge. Gull was one of the judges who were part of a pilot project that led to bringing cameras into state courtrooms.

The Delphi murders case generated renewed interest in September after the defense attorneys pointed to evidence of a “ritualistic sacrifice.” Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland later flatly rejected the idea that the murders were part of a ritual connected to Odinism, a religion connected to paganism. He specifically labeled the defense theory as “colorful, dramatic, and highly unprofessional, and it is not completely true.”

Allen’s defense team on Thursday hopes to convince a judge to throw out evidence in the case, and to have Allen to have released from a state maximum security prison immediately.

Allen has been in the Indiana Department of Correction’s Westville Correctional Facility since November 2022. The state prison is in northern Indiana about halfway between the cities of La Porte and Valparaiso. The Carroll County sheriff had argued that his staff and facility could not handle the incarceration of Allen while he awaits a trial.

Prosecutors in court in January revealed that suspect Allen has confessed multiple times while incarcerated. The defense lawyers replied that the confessions came as Allen suffered inhumane treatment at a maximum security prison. Allen’s attorneys argued the confessions were invalid and prompted only by his declining mental health because of the prison conditions.

Thursday’s hearing was set to start at 2 p.m. in Allen Superior Court 5 at the Allen County Courthouse in downtown Fort Wayne. A trial has been set to start Jan. 8 in the case, but that date could be changed Thursday.

The courthouse, built in 1902, was distinguished as a National Historic Landmark in 2003. The Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust says the building’s most distinctive feature is its extensive scagliol, a faux marble that uses a unique coloring process. A dome of stained glass towers 110 over the main rotunda, which stands as a dramatic contrast to other buildings in Fort Wayne’s downtown.

This story contains previous coverage from News 8.