I-Team 8

Jury selection for Delphi murders trial narrowed to Allen or St. Joseph County

DELPHI, Ind. (WISH) — Jurors for the future trial of Delphi murders suspect Richard Allen will be selected from either Allen or St. Joseph Counties, according to court documents obtained by News 8.

“From a brick and mortar stand point we are going to proceed and carry out in this county and I think that is a logical conclusion and I think a lot of that is to deal with all of the moving parts to not have to cause burden on other people,” Richard Allen’s attorney Brad Rozzi following the latest hearing said.

Allen, 50, of Delphi, faces two counts of murder for the Feb. 13, 2017, deaths of 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German near the Monon High Bridge near Delphi.

Judge Frances Gull, a special judge from Allen County, decided earlier this month that she would bring in a jury from another county to hear the trial after Allen’s attorneys requested a change of venue.

On Jan. 13, Gull told prosecutors and the defense to get together to decide what county that would be.

The trial will stay in Carroll County, the jury will come from somewhere else. Monday the judge issued a ruling that narrowed the list of counties down to Allen and Saint Joseph, both in northern Indiana. In the initial change of venue request made by Allen’s lawyers in October 50% of the people with internet access in Carroll searched ” Richard Allen”. In Fort Wayne, which is 100 miles away the number of “Richard Allen” searches for dropped significantly to less that 4%. Allen’s lawyers made no mention of Saint Joseph County, which is 90 miles to the north of Delphi. They were asking a county in southern Indiana.

“Of course, the most important thing here is that we get a, a jury pool that we can be assured is far and not prejudice and unbiased that is the goal” Rozzi said. 

The defense asked for the change of venue in November, requesting Judge Gull move the trial at least 150 miles away from Carroll County.

Courthouse security is another reason Allen’s lawyers sought the change of venue. When Richard Allen is delivered to the Carroll County court house, he is brought in through a side door. A special team of officers from the Indiana Department of Corrections guide him through the building, past an army of state police, Carroll County sheriff deputies and Delphi police.  This could be the same path and protocol used to get the jury into the court room. Allen’s lawyers argued that this security spectacle would taint the jury.

In their request, Brad Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin wrote: “Richard Allen’s defense team has gleaned statistical data that would strongly indicate that moving the case/trial just 150 miles away would significantly reduce the likelihood of obtaining a tainted jury pool.”

Judge Gull also granted a request by the prosecution to extend a gag order that prohibits those involved in the case from talking about it outside of court, court papers say. Gull issued a temporary gag order in early December.

Allen has maintained his innocence.

The judge has not set a new trial date.

The date for jury selection has not been set. The next hearing for Allen is a bail hearing on Feb. 17.