A suspect in the 2017 deaths of two Delphi teenagers is seeking a new location for his murder trial next year, arguing it will be difficult to form an impartial jury in the current location because of intense public scrutiny and media attention.
Lawyers for Richard Matthew Allen, 50 — a Delphi man who was arrested last month and charged with two counts of murder in the killings of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13 — asked a judge Monday to move the trial to at least 150 miles from Carroll County, where Delphi is located.
Defense attorneys Brad Rozzi and Andrew Baldwin did not specify where they would move the case to but argued moving farther from the county, which has roughly 20,000 people, will decrease the likelihood that a juror is biased in the case or against Allen, who worked at a Delphi CVS store.
Finding Carroll County jurors who do not have connections to the case will be “impossible,” they wrote, because of the county’s small size.
The widespread media coverage and public involvement in the case has especially heightened the need for an impartial jury, Rozzi and Baldwin added. They cite Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland’s request to keep records that led to Allen’s arrest sealed and Allen County Judge Fran Gull’s special appointment to the case as “anecdotal evidence” of the “magnitude of interest and publicity in this case and the practical problems associated with the interest and publicity in Carroll County.”
Gull was assigned to the case after the Carroll County judge recused himself.
“Subjecting potential jurors to such an environment in what may be a multiweek trial would undoubtedly distract jurors to a point that impartiality could not be obtained,” the brief states.
The Carroll County Prosecutor’s Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment. John McGauley, a spokesperson for Gull, said the judge cannot comment on an ongoing case and has not set a hearing on the motion.
Gull held a Nov. 22 hearing in Delphi to determine whether the probable cause affidavit and charging documents related to Allen’s arrest should be made public. At that hearing, Gull acknowledged there is great public interest in the case and said she would decide the matter “in due haste,” but did not say when she would rule.
“Regardless of the ruling, we believe we have a very solid case against Mr. Allen and look forward to making our argument in trial,” McLeland said in a Nov. 23 press release.