Judge weighs whether to unseal records in teens’ killings
DELPHI, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana judge said Tuesday that she will decide soon whether to unseal court records that led to a man’s arrest in the 2017 killings of two teenage girls, while a prosecutor urged the court to keep the documents sealed because others could be involved in the case.
Special Judge Fran Gull said she’d decide the matter “in due haste” after she listened to arguments from attorneys for 50-year-old Richard Matthew Allen and the county prosecutor. Gull acknowledged that there is great public interest in the case against the Delphi, Indiana, man who was arrested last month and charged with two counts of murder in the killings of 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German and 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams.
The probable cause affidavit and charging information against Allen have not been publicly released since they were sealed last month at the request of Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland.
McLeland said during Tuesday’s hearing that authorities “have a good reason to believe” Allen is not the only person connected to the killings. He said that if the affidavit were to be released without redactions, witnesses could be harassed.
Gull — an Allen County judge assigned to the case after a judge in Carroll County, where Delphi is located, recused himself — held Tuesday’s hearing in Delphi to determine whether the documents should be made public. She set a Feb. 17 bail hearing for Allen, whose attorneys on Monday filed a petition to set bond so he might be released before the trial.
John McGauley, a spokesman for Gull, said the judge cannot comment further on the case because it is ongoing and that there is no timeline for when she might decide whether to release the documents.
Andrew Baldwin, an attorney for Allen, said after the hearing that “our client is the wrong guy.” Standing outside the courtroom, he said the sealed probable cause affidavit is “flimsy” and that “you expect more than what I saw.”
Baldwin said Allen has professed his innocence to him.
The county prosecutor’s office and the county clerk’s office did not immediately reply to requests for additional information.
On Oct. 31, authorities announced the arrest of Allen, who lives in Delphi and works at a pharmacy in the city of roughly 3,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis.
The February 2017 killings of the two local girls have haunted the community. A relative dropped the them off at a trail near the Monon High Bridge, just outside of Delphi. Hours later, they failed to show up at their pick-up spot. The next day, their bodies were found in a rugged area near the trail.
The girls’ deaths were ruled homicides, but police have never disclosed how they were killed or what evidence was gathered. At the news conference announcing Allen’s arrest, police declined to answer questions about what led them to Allen, citing the sealed records and their ongoing investigation.
Several news organizations, including The Associated Press, filed a brief with the court on Monday urging Gull to unseal the probable cause affidavit and charging information that would show what evidence authorities have linking Allen to the killings.
Arleigh Rodgers is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Arleigh Rodgers on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arleighrodgers