The judge presiding over the high-profile Delphi murders case has now blocked suspect Richard Allen’s former attorneys from representing him during a dramatic court hearing.
In court in Carroll County, Indiana, on Tuesday, Judge Frances Gull disqualified Andrew Baldwin and Bradley Rozzi from even working pro bono on Mr Allen’s legal team, after they unceremoniously quit the case following a leak of graphic crime scene photos originating from one of their offices.
“I cannot and will not allow these attorneys to represent you,” the judge told accused killer Mr Allen.
She added: “I’m sorry that this has happened, Mr Allen.”
During the hearing, the judge also agreed to delay the high-profile trial by another year – leaving the families of slain teenagers Libby German and Abby Williams waiting at least seven years on from their murders to get any semblance of justice in the case.
The trial had been slated to begin on 24 January 2024.
It has now been pushed back to 15 October 2024, after Mr Allen’s new attorneys raised concerns that they would not be able to get up to speed with the wealth of evidence in just three months’ time.
They were only appointed by the court on 27 October after the prior legal team quit.
The saga surrounding Mr Allen’s attorneys – and in turn the subsequent delay to the trial start date – comes after graphic photos of the scene where teenage best friends Libby and Abby were found brutally murdered began circulating online earlier this month.
In a bombshell twist, it emerged that the leak allegedly originated from a man close to the defence team representing Mr Allen.
The Murder Sheet podcasters – journalist Áine Cain and attorney Kevin Greenlee – told The Independent in an interview earlier this month that, on the morning of 5 October, a source sent them a “number of graphic crime scene pictures and other images that are part of the discovery in the case”.
“We were very disturbed by what we saw,” said Ms Cain.
“The discovery is under a protective order by the court so that it can’t be leaked or disseminated in any way. So it’s not only disturbing to see these images but it’s disturbing in terms of what it means for the case.”
Not knowing where the leak originated from, they said that they contacted both Mr Allen’s attorneys and law enforcement to report the leak.
After that, they learned that the photos had been shared with the source by an individual allegedly connected to Mr Allen’s attorneys Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi.
The man was a close friend of Mr Baldwin and previously worked as an employee at his law firm, the podcasters said.
However, he had never worked on the Delphi case and left the firm years ago.
The individual died by suicide after a police investigation into the leak was launched.
Ms Cain said that they had seen no evidence that Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi were directly responsible for the leak.
A court hearing was arranged by Judge Gull on 19 October to address the leak but – before the hearing could go ahead – Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi both told the court that they were quitting the case.
“We’ve had an unexpected turn of events, ladies and gentlemen,” said Judge Gull at the start of the hearing.
“Earlier this afternoon, the defence attorneys have withdrawn their representation of Mr Allen.”
Mr Baldwin made an oral motion to withdraw from the case, while Mr Rozzi later submitted a written motion to withdraw.
Had the attorneys not withdrawn themselves, the judge could have dismissed them anyway over the matter.
While the two attorneys voluntarily withdrew from the case, they have since claimed that the judge “coerced” them to quit in a what they described as a “pre-meditated ambush” – and filed a motion calling for her to be removed from the case.
In a dramatic move, they filed a motion on Monday offering to work for free on Mr Allen’s case, saying that they would represent him pro bono if they were barred from working as his public defenders.
Mr Allen also sent a letter to the court asking that the attorneys be allowed to stay on his case.
“I want Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi to continue to represent me until this case is resolved, one way or the other. I believe they are acting in a manner that is in my best interest,” he wrote in the letter, sent on 11 October but released as part of a new filing.
Mr Baldwin and Mr Rozzi joined Mr Allen and his newly court-appointed public defenders William Lebrato and Robert Screminin the courtroom on Tuesday and accused the judge of violating the constitution in her ruling and being biased against the defence.
But, the judge disagreed – and told the two attorneys that they cannot stay on the case in any form.
The move comes just one day after Mr Allen’s new legal team called on the Indiana Supreme Court to intervene in the high-profile case – as they accused the judge of leaving the public and the media “in the dark” over the case.
In the court filing, his attorneys claim that a trove of 118 documents in the case have been improperly excluded from the public and demanded that they be unsealed.
“If there was ever a time when the openness mandated by the Trial Rules and Access to Court Records Rules was critical, it is the present case – one of the most high-profile cases this state has ever seen,” the filing states.
“For many Hoosiers this is the first time they have followed the workings of a court in this state.
“Yet the Trial Rules and Access to Court Records Rules have been repeatedly violated, leaving the public and the media in the dark.”
The attorneys claim that accessing the documents has been made more challenging – with the 118 documents only accessible through an embedded link in another court order.
Mr Allen’s attorneys are asking the Indiana Supreme Court to take action in the case.
This marks the latest twist in the tragic case which left the teenage victims’ families desperately searching for answers for years before an arrest was finally made in October 2022.
It began back on 13 February 2017 when Libby and Abby set off on a walk along the Monon High Bridge in their hometown of Delphi.
During the walk, Libby posted a photo of her best friend on Snapchat as they walked along the Monon High Bridge.
Minutes later, Libby captured a video of a man – known as “bridge guy” – dressed in blue jeans, a blue jacket and a cap walking along the abandoned railroad bridge.
In the footage – found on Libby’s phone following their murders – the man tells the two girls: “Guys, down the hill.”
Later that day, the teenagers were reported missing when they failed to return to a spot where a family member was picking them up.
The next day – Valentine’s Day 2017 – their bodies were discovered in a wooded area less than half a mile off the trail along the side of Deer Creek.
In October 2022 – over five years later – Mr Allen was arrested and charged with their murders.
Following his arrest, the case has continued to be fraught with controversies, with Mr Allen’s former attorneys claiming that the suspect is being treated poorly as he is held behind bars.
But, as Ms Cain pointed out, a leak of sensitive evidence is the most “serious situation we’ve seen so far”.
“This case has a rabid online social media following which is helpful in keeping the spotlight on it but it can be detrimental as well in this case,” she said, referring to the leak of the images in the social media community.
“This could be an opportunity for the judge to lay down the law and say ‘this madness needs to stop’.”
In one of the latest twists, Mr Allen’s then-attorneys made the bombshell claim last month that Libby and Abby were killed – not by the suspect – but as part of a “ritualistic sacrifice” at the hands of a white nationalist cult called Odinists.
“Members of a pagan Norse religion, called Odinism, hijacked by white nationalists, ritualistically sacrificed Abigail Williams and Liberty German,” state the documents, seen by The Independent.
The stunning 135-page document detailed how Libby and Abby’s bodies had both been staged with tree branches and sticks across their bodies in the shape of pagan symbols, the documents state – which “resembled possible Odinism signatures left behind at the crime scene”.
They also revealed never-before-known details about how Libby and Abby died.
The teenage best friends both had their necks slashed, the documents reveal.
Libby was found at the base of a tree with “four tree branches of varying sizes intentionally placed in a very specific and arranged pattern on her naked body” and blood spots and drippings all over her body.
Abby meanwhile was fully clothed, including in Libby’s sweatshirt and jeans, the documents state.
There was no blood on her clothing, indicating that she was likely murdered while naked and then dressed after she was killed. Tree branches and sticks had also been arranged on her body, the documents state.
Both victims appeared to have been moved and positioned after they were murdered.
Libby’s blood had also been used as paint to mark a tree with a rune that looks similar to the letter “F” – a rune known to be associated with the pagan religious cult Odinism.
According to Mr Allen’s attorneys, law enforcement officials had explored possible links between the killings early on in the investigation – but then quickly “abandoned” the theory.
They claim the state failed to hand over this information until this September.
The defence even took the extraordinary step of naming four apparent Odinites as potential suspects in the killings.
While his legal team has maintained that he is innocent of any involvement, Indiana investigators have said that they believe Mr Allen may not have acted alone.
According to prosecutors, Mr Allen – a local man who served the victims’ families in his job at the Delphi CVS store – is the so-called “bridge guy” captured on camera by the victims.
The criminal affidavit previously revealed that he wa finally tied to the February 2017murders through a bullet found at the bloody crime scene.
Ballistics confirmed that an unspent .40 caliber round found close to the bodies of the teenage victims came from Mr Allen’s Sig Sauer Model P226.
The firearm – which he owned since 2011 – was found during a search of his home last October and both he and his wife Kathy told police he was the only person with access to it, the documents state.
The documents also revealed that, in Libby’s cellphone footage, one of the victims mentions the word “gun” – suggesting that their attacker was armed with a firearm and was using it to coerce the victims.
In a police interview on 13 October, Mr Allen told investigators he had “no explanation” as to how the spent bullet ended up near the bodies of the two teenage victims, the document states.
The accused killer said he had “not been on the property where the unspent round was found, that he did not know the property owner, and that he had no explanation as to why a round cycled through his firearm would be at that location,” it says. The property owner – Ron Logan – was also previously tied to the case. He died in 2020.
As well as the ballistics evidence, Mr Allen was also tied to the killings after his vehicle was spotted parked close to the trail in “an odd manner” as if to “conceal the license plate”, the affidavit previously revealed.
Several witnesses also reported seeing a “creepy” man matching the description of “bridge guy” around the time of the murders while one person said they saw a “muddy and bloody” man leaving the trail around two hours after Libby and Abby were last seen alive. The witnesses did not see anyone other than “bridge guy” on the trail at the time, the affidavit reads.
The married father to a daughter had been on law enforcement’s radar back in 2017 after he admitted to being on the trail the day the girls were killed.
During a 2017 interview with police, Mr Allen confessed to being on the Monon High Bridge Trail that afternoon but denied any involvement in the murders and insisted he had never seen the two girls that day.
Despite placing himself at the scene of the crime at the time of the murders, he slipped through the net due to a “clerical error”.
Since his arrest, Mr Allen has confessed to the 2017 murders multiple times behind bars – including in a jailhouse phone call with his wife, dramatic court documents revealed back in June.
While prosecutors say that the accused killer admitted “several times” that he carried out the brutal murders, Mr Allen’s attorneys claim that his confession cannot be believed due to his current mental state.